Hood's Barbeque reopens with a fresh new look
By J. Chambless
The new Hood's, with landscaping and a patio area out front, opened officially on May 15.
Longtime customers at Hood's Barbeque
in Unionville will recognize the sweet, smoky aroma of simmering
meats as soon as they walk in, but everything else inside is brand
Hood's officially reopened on May 15 after nine months of construction and expansion that has turned the once-cramped restaurant and takeout business into a showplace and gathering spot for the community.
Sitting down at a table just before lunchtime on Friday, Larry Hood III talked about the transformation of the business.
“Our last day at the old Hood's was Aug. 29,” he said. “Our vision, from the beginning, was to give the community something that we could be proud of, and they could be proud of, too,” he said. “Everybody seems to be cleaning up Unionville, and things are starting to pick up, which is really great to see. Hopefully it will be more a walking town, where people can shop and get a meal. We wanted to create a community hot spot where everybody knows each other's names.”
People who have been coming to Hood's for years were wary when the building closed in August – operating out of a trailer in the parking lot over the past nine months whenever possible – and announced plans to change.
“People asked why we changed a good thing, but it was time,” Hood said. The former building had suffered from neglect and age (it was built in 1946, Hood said), and the roof sagged. It was also small, and didn't allow the Hood's catering and takeout business to operate efficiently. The dining area was homey but nothing special. And the narrow strip of pavement out front was a safety hazard. Despite pleas to not park there, the Hood family found that drivers would back onto busy West Doe Run Road.
The new Hood's has an attractive patio dining area out front and a reconfigured parking lot out back. Customers are also welcome to park across the street, where there is plenty of space.
Stepping through the front door, though, was a surprising experience for customers on Friday, many of whom were seeing the place for the first time.
There are dark wood tables and chairs in two dining areas – one a more family-friendly space, and one centered on a bar that has high stools all around it, and small round tables. There is a catering window down the center hallway, and a door to the back parking lot, so takeout customers don't have to come through the restaurant if they don't want to.
“It took nine months,” Hood said of the project. “We anticipated four to six, but you know how construction goes. We're just super excited to be back up and running.”
The back of the building has been expanded to include two kitchens – one for the restaurant and takeout, and one for catering orders.
“We used to have 30 or 40 seats, and now we have 80 or so inside, and a patio with 20 seats outside too,” Hood explained. “We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we're open six days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.” Hood's will be closed on Mondays.
“We have some old staff members who stayed on with us, and we've hired a bunch of new ones as well. We probably have about three dozen full-timers and part-timers. Everyone from ages 15 to 70. And there's always a Hood family member here -- usually me,” Hood added.
“We had three soft openings, friends and family kind of nights, last weekend, as well as last night,” he said. “They all went off pretty well.”
The bar area is a great spot for customers to bring their own alcohol, since Hood's is now a BYOB eatery. “At the old place, there was countertop service,” Hood said. “When you walked in, there was that round table, right by the door. Everybody wanted to sit at the round table. So now we've just expanded that round table to a horseshoe-shaped bar.” There are televisions mounted above the bar to entertain customers, and the décor is a funky mix of antique farm implements, humorous signs, country charm and photos that have been given to Hood's over the years by loyal customers.
“We did all the interior decorating,” Hood said, “My mom enjoyed collecting a lot of the knick-knacks.”
One of the big changes is that Hood's took over the house that was formerly attached to one end of the building. Now there's a country store in half of the space, offering local milk, eggs and baked goods, as well as side dishes from the Hood's kitchen, jellies, coffee, and other old-fashioned goods. And, of course, there are Hood's T-shirts and caps.
“It's sort of like a Cracker Barrel,” Hood expalined. “I think it's a spot that will grow with time as customers come in, grab a newspaper and a cup of coffee.
“Next year is our 10th year, which I can't believe,” he said. “After we were able to purchase the building two years ago, we were able to make this place what we've always dreamed of. That's how the new Hood's came about.”
For more information, visit Hood's at 1664 West Doe Run Road in Unionville, call 610-347-1670, or visit www.hoodsbbq.com.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.