Mama's Smokin' BBQ

Mama’s Smokin’ BBQ in Shongo opened at 11 a.m. Thursday after a September fire left the original structure a total loss. New additions, menu items and repurposed decorations of local historical significance welcome the restaurant’s customers, many of whom have been tracking the reconstruction process on social media.

SHONGO — Rebuilt from the ground up after a devastating September fire, Mama’s Smokin BBQ has reopened for business.

A popular crossroads diner, Mama’s is located at 605 State Route 19 in Shongo, a few miles south of Wellsville.

Owners Mary Bailey and Mike Edwards serve home-style meals including house smoked pork and chicken barbecue from their main location in Shongo, as well as from a hotdog and taco cart called Hot Diggity Dog, which is typically stationed in Wellsville at the parking lot near Dollar General and Dunkin Donuts every day in the summer. They cover special events like the Greater Wellsville Area Balloon Rally and do catering events.

“We’ve got quite a following with our Hot Diggity Dog stand and Mamma’s,” said Bailey, who logged over 30 pick-up orders before they officially reopened on Thursday.

In September 2018, a fire erupted one evening as customers sat down to dinner, forcing everyone to evacuate without injuries but leaving the building a total loss. The original building, which began its life as a hot dog and root beer stand in 1959, was bulldozed and rebuilt from the ground up by the owners and their family.

Edwards, Bailey and their family executed much of the construction and repurposing projects when they started digging a new foundation on March 27, and explained that some of the decor features repurposed materials from historical buildings and other sources in the area that tie into Mama’s history.

“People like the place because of our atmosphere. Our customers love us and we love our customers,” Edwards said. “And as far as decorating on the inside, we repurposed a lot of stuff.”

The owners invite interested customers to stop in to enjoy the materials that were salvaged.

“There’s a lot of history here — a lot of old memories on this lot — and now we want to create some new ones,” said Bailey.

During construction, several new projects and additions were included.

“We have outdoor seating, which we never had before, and we doubled our front parking,” Bailey said, adding that much work has been done to create spaces and entrances that are handicap accessible. Our kitchen is probably seven times bigger than what is was before, which will definitely make it more tolerable on hot and cold days,” Bailey added.

Additionally, customers can enjoy television, have wifi access and pay using new credit card access in the Shongo location and at Hot Diggity Dog.

Mama’s is open seven days a week with as many employees, but is considering adding more positions.

“There are a lot of places that are closed on Monday — and there may be a reason for that — but we’re going to try it,” Bailey said.

In addition to adding an extra day of operation, Mama’s is integrating new kitchen equipment such as a pizza oven, which they said has attracted new customers, some of which travel by four-wheeler to pick up their orders.

“We thought that by putting the pizza oven in that would give another person a job too. It would be nice. We’ve got some local kids that are looking for work,” Edwards added.

A Mama’s Smokin’ BBQ Facebook post from Tuesday announcing their plans to reopen was shared close to 700 times, and a Saturday afternoon post appreciated the “overwhelming response” since reopening, admitting that customers may expect limited menu options due to Mamma’s selling out of certain items.

“We get a lot of Pennsylvania people, and a lot of New York people of course. A lot of travelers from Canada come down just to get something to eat, and they tell us that,” Edwards said, describing some of the restaurant’s clientele.

The couple said many motorcycle groups come in the summer, and other customers take advantage of area snowmobile paths, a nearby kayak launch dock, horse paths and extensive four wheeler trails, some of which are marked with directional pig-shaped metal signs leading toward Mamma’s.

“It’s really easy to get here,” Bailey said, and joked about possibly installing a hook up for horses outside.

They spoke of dedicated groups of customers who ride trails from camps in Coudersport (Pa.) for a good meal.

“It’s for people who want to get out of town but don’t want to go too far,” said Edwards.

Mama’s BBQ Grill is currently open for business, and invites customers to stop in or follow their Facebook page for hours and menu options as things go into motion.