A taste of the South: Navy veteran opens new BBQ in former creamery

Navy veteran opens new BBQ in former creamery

  • Rob Stockwell, owner of Back Porch BBQ on Elm Street in South Deerfield, at its new location. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Rob Stockwell, owner of Back Porch BBQ, hangs his sign on the exterior of the building on Elm Street in South Deerfield. The business is set to open Friday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 5/19/2016 5:19:03 PM

DEERFIELD — Fear not, you will still be able to get soft serve at 20 Elm St.

The only difference is, now you can order a rack of ribs to pair it with.

Rob Stockwell plans to open Back Porch BBQ, formerly Hillside Dairy & Creamery, today, just a couple of months after purchasing the property from Steve Schechterle, who owns the Spirit Shoppe liquor stores. Stockwell said Schechterle owned the creamery before leasing it to two people who operated it for a year. The new eatery will open to the public at 11:30 a.m.

Stockwell has western Massachusetts roots that got more than three decades of nourishment in the South. A four-year stint in the U.S. Navy sent the Hadley native to that part of the country and he worked in the computer industry in Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas before moving to Montague in December 2014. He retired on April 1.

“It’s funny, up here I talk about grinders and pizza on every corner. Down south, it’s a barbecue place on every corner,” he said before explaining his rationale for opening a new restaurant.

Stockwell, who worked in a restaurant years ago, described his grub as slow-smoked southern barbecue. He said the menu will include culinary staples like ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket, coleslaw and baked beans. He also said he makes his own dry rubs and vinegar-based sauces.

Stockwell said he entered some competitions while living in the South and met successful pitmasters who taught him much about the trade.

Jarrod Stockwell, Rob’s 21-year-old son, joined his father in Montague about a year ago and will assist at Back Porch BBQ, where Rob will do the barbecuing.

“That’s mostly been his department,” Jarrod Stockwell said, adding that he looks forward to opening. “I wasn’t as much as first, but now that we’re getting closer to it, I’m getting more excited.”

The elder Stockwell said he tried to purchase the Roberto’s Pizzeria property in Montague before buying the 600-square-foot facility in Deerfield. He got all necessary permits from the town.

“I saw this location last year and it wasn’t for sale and I thought, ‘That is the kind of place I’d like to find,’” he recalled. “And I really hadn’t been able to find anything. And then I drove by here — I was cutting through like everybody does — back in probably March, and saw the ‘For Sale’ sign out in front of it, made some calls and bought it.”

He said he expects to have four or five part-time employees. The plan is to be open all year, though that may change. The eatery will be closed on Sundays and Mondays.

You can reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257. On Twitter: @DomenicPoli


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