Get Fired Up for Route 88 BBQ & Brew

Sitting around the fire pit, making s’mores, sipping a glass of wine or having an ice-cold craft brew. Playing a bit of corn toss. Listening to some live music on a Saturday night.

Sounds like summer backyard good times, doesn’t it?

Add to that some tasty pulled pork, baby back ribs, brisket or chicken and traditional barbecue sides, and now we’re talking.

We’re talking the Route 88 BBQ & Brew.

With updates to the adjacent outside space, a “proper” smoker and house-made barbecue sauces, a whole new level of good times has arrived at the re-opened restaurant near Oglebay’s Par 3 and Driving Range.

The eatery had been run by a third party entity last summer when it opened but is now operated by Oglebay Park, according to Kevin Blake, the park’s food and beverage director.

“When that came about,” Blake said, “we decided … to get a proper smoker … to do the type of meats we wanted. And we wanted to keep it simple.

“Keep it simple, do the things you can do really well and do them consistently. That’s been our mantra,” he said.

Everyone’s favorite barbecued meats are on the menu: pulled pork, baby back ribs, beef brisket and chicken. Traditional sides were selected — bourbon baked beans, baked mac & cheese, pickled peppers and “southern vinegar slaw.” They also offer “jo jo” potato wedges, “which is very popular in this area,” Blake said. And onion rings.

The sauces are all crafted in-house, he noted. “Not taking Sweet Baby Rays and trying to make it our own. We actually make all the sauces from scratch … Carolina Gold, which is very traditional from the south. We’ve got a Texas and a Kansas City barbecue sauce — one’s a little bit sweet, and one’s a little bit more on the spicy side, and Carolina Gold is vinegar based,” he explained.

Along with the house-crafted sauces, you can also choose from dozens of bottled sauces such as Howler Monkey, Colon Cleaner, Cry Baby Craig’s, Professor Payne Indeass’s Butt Pucker XX-Hot Sauce, just to name a few of the intriguing choices.

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Lindsey McGlaughlin, Oglebay’s marketing manager, pointed out that the interior of the restaurant has a real “barbecue vibe,” with the wagon wheel lighting fixtures and wooden picnic tables — “original components of the facility dating back to 1967,” she said.

Stand-up barrel tables have been placed inside, too, which are great to set your cold beer on while chatting with friends.

And speaking of cold beer, they’ve expanded the selection of craft brews, added craft ciders and wines, and specialty sodas.

Blake believes the Route 88 BBQ & Brew will be a real attraction for families. “We’ve got the outside with games, fire pit, s’mores kits we sell.” And it has the “potential for being an evening venue where people just say, ‘Hey let’s go to the Par 3 to the BBQ and get a glass of wine or a cold draft and sit by the fire.’”

So, he suggests: “Come up, hit a few buckets of balls, have a bite, have a cold pop or an adult beverage … it doesn’t get any better!”

The fire pit at Route 88 BBQ Brew has been updated, and umbrella tables have been added to the outdoor seating area.

In other good news, Blake pointed out that the Garden Bistro, with its gorgeous hillside view and relaxing atmosphere — “a very cerebral dining experience,” he likes to say — will have extended hours this season. Opening May 24, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Tuesday.

Route 88 BBQ & Brew is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

• After nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal has joined Weelunk as managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.