The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
You may remember Al Horowitz, owner of Smokin Al's Famous BBQ Joint, for making news last winter with a widely publicized offer to tear up credit card receipts for Super Bowl Sunday orders in the event of a Giants' win. Faced with a huge response, Horowitz prematurely put a cap on the number of orders taken and, after the Giants' victory, ended up giving away about $60,000 worth of food.
Now Horowitz has closed his decade-old Bay Shore restaurant, leaving locals with a hankering for his slow-smoked ribs, brisket and chicken the option of driving 12 miles to the newer Massapequa Park restaurant.
Smokin' Al’s has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection,which allows a company to reorganize, since June 1, 2012. At the time of the filing, the company's total debt, according to court documents obtained by Newsday, was about $2 million.
The company's financial difficulties began when Horowitz opened the second location in Massapequa Park, court documents said. The combination of "growing pains" and the significant additional expense of upgrading its air filtration system to address neighbors' complaints about the strong smell of barbecue hurt the company's cash flow and its ability to pay its bills. The company eventually fell behind paying various creditors. It owed about $51,000 in state taxes.
Horowitz said that the closing of the Bay Shore location has nothing to do with the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The place was too small and, at times, the wait for customers was over two hours, he said. "In the nine months that we have been in Chapter 11, not a single thing has changed at Smokin' Al's," Horowitz said. "The quality of the food has stayed the same.''
He said that the company intends to emerge from bankruptcy in the spring.
As Horowitz tells the story of the relocation plans, he was informed by the Suffolk County sewer department that he would have to redo the 60-seat eatery's entire sewage system. This, he said, was an undertaking that didn't pay for a space so small. Instead, Horowitz chose to close and begin a search for larger quarters somewhere in Suffolk County.
Horowitz added that he expects to make deliveries from Massapequa Park to the Fire Island ferries as usual this summer.
Smokin’ Al’s Famous BBQ Joint is at 4847 Merrick Rd. in Massapequa Park, 516-799-4900.