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'Hometown' Restaurant Unites Brooklyn and Southern BBQ

By Alan Neuhauser | October 24, 2012 8:44am | Updated on October 24, 2012 9:35am

RED HOOK — Southern barbecue meets the south Brooklyn waterfront this spring when Hometown opens for business on Van Brunt Street in Red Hook.

The restaurant, owned by longtime friends Christopher Miller, 38, and Billy Durney, 40, will feature a 4,000-pound hickory pit to prepare barbecue staples like ribs, brisket and pork shoulder, plus daily or weekly specials like goat and game.

Miller and Durney won approval for a liquor license from Community Board 6's Licenses and Permits Committee Monday night.

"It's Brooklyn-style, but we were influenced by styles from around the country," Miller said, adding that he had just returned from a trip to Texas "to get more inspiration."

Miller and Durney spoke Monday as they prepared for the Red Hook Initiative's Taste of Red Hook fundraiser Tuesday night, standing next to a spotless black 84-inch Lang trailer-smoker from Georgia at the future site of their restaurant Hometown at 454 Van Brunt St.

The smell of his food wafted up across the block.

"That's a beauty," marveled a man named Anthony, admiring the smoker as he strolled toward Fairway.

The driver of an enormous RV pulled to a stop across the street barely a minute later.

"You guys cookin'?" he yelled as he leaned out the window.

"It's been like this all day," Miller said. "The neighbors have been so supportive of us. We have debates in front all the time about whether we're going to do Texas barbecue, Carolina barbecue, Brooklyn barbecue."

Durney agreed. "We get so much love," he said.

Miller, a managing partner at Warren 77 in TriBeCa, got his training at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan.

Durney, the restaurant's pit master, said he most recently worked in private security, but he has been smoking and barbecuing with family and friends since childhood.

"I can remember smoking with my grandfather as a kid in Pennsylvania with a smoke we made with a garbage can and wood we knocked down in the backyard," he recounted. "Barbecue has always been a passion of mine."

The restaurant will seat about 100 people and include a full bar, Durney and Miller said. They're also considering including table-top shuffleboard, billiards and '80s-style video games.

Like Williamsburg's renowned Fette Sau, patrons will line-up to order their meats from a display case before taking a seat. Beers and drinks, however, will be ordered from and brought to the table by servers.

"Not very heavy waitress service," Miller said. "It's just going to be a real humble place — cold beer, simple. It's Hometown. We want people to feel that it's home."