Missing Link brings fresh-smoked BBQ to Dartmouth
Meat Dartmouth’s newest restaurateurs.
Tom Lyon and his business partner Doug Moniz opened Missing Link, a barbecue food truck, on July 2 and are already off to a smoking hot start.
“We’re crushing it,” said Lyon, with a smile. “We couldn’t be happier.”
He said that even though the business — located at 890 State Road, right next to Caddy Shack — has not even had its official grand opening yet, the community has been very supportive.
“The people of this town are pretty righteous,” he said.
Lyon said that they are waiting to do a real grand opening until they can get a “common vic’s” license, which would allow them to serve food to be eaten onsite, rather than just takeaway.
“Above all else we want to comply [with regulations],” he said.
Despite the month-long “soft launch,” Lyon said the 250-gallon tank smoker has been running almost non-stop to keep up with demand.
On a daily basis, he said, they slow cook five whole briskets, six whole pork shoulders, 18 to 24 racks of ribs, four to 10 whole chickens, one or two whole pork bellies, and a whole top round.
“We light that smoker up at 4:30 [a.m.] every day,” he said, adding that they go through about a cord of wood each week, which measures 4’x4’x8’ when stacked neatly. “People around here dig brisket.”
Lyon said that while many New Englanders think that barbecue is defined by its signature brown sauce, the real secret is in the smoke.
“We’re trying to let people know that barbecue is not based on sauce — all the flavor comes from the wood,” he said.
Lyon, a Pittsburgh native who moved to the area in 1999 to attend Johnson and Wales University’s culinary school in Providence, said he has been smoking meats since he was a kid and has always dreamed of opening a barbecue joint.
“I’ve been cooking barbecue my whole life,” he said. “I love it.”
He and Moniz met while they were both working at Barrett's Alehouse in West Bridgewater and eventually decided to go into business together. Lyon’s wife, Alana, also works at the restaurant, taking orders, running social media, and helping out in the kitchen when needed.
The two business partners bought their food truck — a massive trailer that houses a full kitchen and a caged-in room for the smoker — from Missouri and had it shipped up.
“She was in rough shape when we got her,” Lyon said, explaining that he and Moniz had to do a lot of equipment overhauling and cleaning before the truck was ready to go.
Now that it’s up and running, the two are offering a full menu, including: cornbread cakes, smoke-baked potatoes, and a variety of sides in addition to the smorgasbord of meats on offer (available in sandwich or platter format).
“A lot of it is just a well-engineered menu,” Lyon said, explaining how they’re able to serve such a large variety of dishes from just a food truck. “I just let the smoker do most of the work.”
But the two are not content to rest on their laurels.
They have plans to renovate the building next door to the truck starting in August, making it into a 40-seat restaurant complete with a take-out window out front.
“We’re not planning to be just seasonal,” Lyon said. “This is a year-round place.”
He said he also wants the building to house two separate kitchens, one to cook food for the restaurant and the other to prepare homemade hotdogs and sausages which would be sold retail.
When that’s all done and said, Lyon said he even has plans for additional locations, which could include a ramen shop and wood-fired pizzeria.
“I’m pretty much going to keep cooking the food I like to eat,” he said.
Missing Link Barbecue is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.