Roadside Restaurateurs Unveil Big Plans in NW New Jersey

A recent collaborative effort between Mountain Dudes and Drake’s Joint will bring new life to various ‘landmark dining spots’ in the region.
Roadside Restaurateurs Unveil Big Plans in NW New Jersey
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Two of northwest New Jersey’s newest names in barbecue – Chris Sterlacci of Mountain Dudes Good Food and Dan Risis of Drake’s Joint – recently announced the coming together of their concepts, resulting in a supergroup restaurant as well as plans to revamp the currently shuttered Toby’s Cup off Memorial Parkway, according to Sterlacci.

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Over the next few months, the roadside restaurateurs will be working to rebrand Mountain Dudes Good Food, located at 1278 US-22 in Phillipsburg, into a second full-service Drake’s outpost. 

Although the name will change, its menu will retain many of Mountain Dudes’ beloved menu items such as the bison burgers and Sasquatch sandwiches, which will be “complemented” by Drake’s additions.

As Sterlacci explained to local media outlet WFMZ, “we currently feature smoked brisket on some of our items at Mountain Dudes, but we don’t currently smoke any of our meats in-house. Now we will have our own, super fresh smoked barbecue.”

Moreover, Sterlacci tells What Now Philadelphia that the rebrand doesn’t spell the end of Mountain Dudes, and that he and Risis have plans for the restaurant moving forward.

Also in the works is next year’s relaunch of the small Lopatcong Township legacy restaurant, Toby’s Cup, which is currently owned by Risis. According to WFMZ, the team doesn’t have any plans to mess with its winning formula of burgers, cheesesteaks, and fries.

“We’re excited to be reviving Toby’s Cup, our next joint venture,” Sterlacci told WFMZ. “Dan’s in real estate development. So we’re having a lot of fun bringing life back to some of these landmark restaurant spots.”

The entire development slate kicked off this past weekend when the newly formed duo opened Drake’s Joint in Greenwich Township’s former Sammy’s Drive-In Restaurant at 1193 Route 22, transforming it into a roadside, carry-out-focused barbecue spot.

“We want to keep the nostalgia of the roadside stand alive,” Sterlacci told WFMZ. “We want to be that spot where you swing by for a quick meal, knowing that it’s made with really fresh ingredients in a fun and lively atmosphere.”

However, that opening was just the beginning, as Sterlacci and Risis are currently in the process of redeveloping Sammy’s interior, complete with a new floor, ceiling, lighting, and kitchen, with space to spare for some in-house seating. 

While Drake’s specializes in barbecue comfort food such as smoked chicken and brisket sandwiches and appetizers and sides like Mac and cheese, collard greens, corn-on-the-cob, and baked beans, Sterlacci and Risis will honor the legacy of Sammy’s by resurrecting some of its ice cream options including floats, shakes, and hard and soft serve.

“We’re super excited to be reviving the Sammy’s concept inside by the spring,” said Sterlacci. “It was a landmark of the Phillipsburg community for many years.” 

Risis added, “When you’re done with your barbecue, you’ll be able to come inside for ice cream! It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Drew Pittock

Drew Pittock is a freelance writer from Los Angeles, CA. He’s covered music, culture, and plant-based cuisine for various media outlets from Beijing to Tallinn and beyond. He currently lives in El Paso, TX with his wife and their cat.
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