A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit with a brand new barbecue restaurant that recently opened it’s doors in San Marco this past April called The Bearded Pig Southern BBQ & Beer Garden. Michael Schmidt and Chad Munsey are the co-owners and operate this new laid back all American barbecue spot on Kings Ave in San Marco and even though their restaurant is new they are no rookies in the food industry. Michael grew up in San Marco’s food service industry scene as his father owned a restaurant in Jacksonville, Michael said he’d been cooking from an early age and grew to love it. Chad has been in the business since he graduated from the University of Florida in 1992, kicking off his career in the nightclub industry and later focusing more on fine dining and full service establishments. Chad was previously the manager at Biscottis, owned the Grotto in San Marco from 2001 to 2008, and is a current partner at Ovinte and Bistro AIX in Jacksonville.
Upon my initial visit to Michael and Chad’s new restaurant one of the first things I noticed about the establishment was it’s open flow design, while remaining simplistic in nature it manages to create an environment that blends the exterior with the interior in a very organic way. Michael runs the kitchen at The Bearded Pig but is also a practicing architect, having completed a masters in architecture at the University of Florida in 2008. The design of the restaurant was a direct result of Michael’s blueprints and the two business partners built it from the ground up. The single level restaurant offers a very spacious exterior where guests can enjoy watching TV as well as participate in activities such as corn hole and relax on comfortable lawn chairs.
Of course I wanted to know what some of The Bearded Pig’s best selling items were so I asked Michael. The San Marco Platter which comes with a ¼ of white or dark chicken, ¼ rack of ribs, 2 ¼ lbs of brisket and pull pork or sausage plus two sides is one of the most popular items. And while the main menu stays consistent throughout the year, Michael and Chad work with a wide variety of local famers for seasonal side item options. For the thirsty patrons The Bearded Pig offers local and regional craft beers twelve of them which are on tap. Chad also added that, “we offer the best wine list you’ll ever find in a barbecue restaurant.” The restaurant serves it’s wine selection both by the glass and by the bottle and offers a total of twenty five varieties to choose from. For kids The Bearded Pig has a selection of little slider sandwiches, chicken tenders, and hotdogs.
Chad added that what he feels is unique about their new establishment is that all their items are made with premium beef, an unique dry rub, all vegetarian sides, and two sides which are vegan. With this diverse set of menu offerings The Bearded Pig aims to provide for the needs of virtually anybody’s food requirements. Chad also said, “the unique spaces outside feels like you are hanging out in a friend’s back yard. we wanted to make the design comfortable and inviting.”
The restaurant serves about 650 guests a day and has plans to develop a catering side to their business within the first six months. Helpful note; since there is no parking right at the restaurant The Bearded Pig has leased the lot across the street next to the Hilton Garden Inn and patrons are encouraged to park there. For more information about The Bearded Pig in San Marco visit them online at www.thebeardedpigbbq.com.
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Written and published for BUZZ Magazine, May 2016.