Biggins Diggins: Calling all meat lovers ... there's a new smokey barbecue joint in the Berkshires
This story has been corrected to clarify Jenn Bishop's employment and experience.
LANESBOROUGH — Jenn and Terry Bishop rise and smoke every morning.
It's the normal pace of life at their breakfast and lunch barbecue diner, which has a 6-foot custom-made meat smoker in the back.
Open six days a week, Biggins Diggins in Lanesborough serves comfort food with a wicked twist — the bacon is smoked, the ham's name is Taylor and you can order an apple-fig-brie omelette (it was fluffy and crisp around the edges with fresh eggs folded over tart apples, sweet figs and meaty bacon under brie sauce).
Wife and husband Jenn and Terry Bishop opened the nine-table restaurant in July. They each have restaurant experience, mostly behind the bar, but this is Terry's first time running a kitchen and using his own recipes.
The restaurant is named after Terry — because he's a "biggin" — and the former Minor League-A pitcher has spent the last two years creating recipes and learning the ins and outs of being a pitmaster.
"It was a lot of trial and error," Terry Bishop said of his smoking. "It's a lot of hard work behind the scenes.
"We love treating people like family when they're here, even when we're at our busiest," he continued.
The menu at Biggins Diggins is still evolving. Smoked meats — brisket, chicken breasts and wings, bacon and sausage — are the restaurant's signature, but they're moving toward developing their own barbecue sauces, too.
Some things, though, will never change. Jenn Bishop, who works two jobs in addition to Biggins Diggins — — she's a health services counselor and waitress at another restaurant — insisted her eatery serve Taylor ham, a staple from Jenn's native New Jersey. Taylor ham, aka pork roll, is a smoked sausage-like pork.
"It's marbled like ... baloney," said Jenn, trying to describe what exactly Taylor ham is. "If you're having a bad day, a hang over, get yourself a Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwich and you'll be good to go."
The restaurant is celiac-friendly, as well, with a dedicated gluten-free fryer and cooking equipment.
Jenn said she and Terry had discussed opening their own restaurant someday and when they saw 545 South Main St., the former Scully's Kitchen, they knew the time was right and leased the building.
Start-up costs for a small restaurant with no bar is about $15,000 to $20,000 minimum, Jenn estimated. The restaurant made it through its first winter in the Berkshires — a challenging time for any business that serves summer and fall tourists as well as locals. Offering delivery service helped, she said.
"It wasn't the easiest, but it's done," Jenn said. "We did well with delivery, take-out and catering."
Biggins Diggins is now gearing up for its first full summer in the Berkshires. Being close to Pontoosuc Lake, they expect to be busy and hired two more to the existing staff of five.
Jenn said she would like to add a grab-and-go meal feature to the restaurant, which already does deliveries (within 6 miles or so) and catering. They've got three weddings booked for the summer.
The couple said their best advice for people seeking to open a restaurant in the Berkshires is do it — and be responsive to what people need.
"When we first started, we were doing breakfast on the weekends until 10:30 a.m. — 10 people left because we weren't doing breakfast," she said. "We learned from that, quick, and now it's breakfast til noon."
Meanwhile, the restaurant is getting its name out into the community by holding benefits and offering discounted meals for emergency responders and members of the military.
"It's the least we can do for them," Jenn said.
Kristin Palpini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @kristinpalpini, 413-629-4621.
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