Update June 30 3:42 p.m.: More Than Q is indeed open for business in West Windsor.
The wait is almost over.
More Than Q owner Matt Martin says that if all goes well, his new barbecue restaurant will open for business on June 30.
Renovations on the space complete are done, permits are secured, the smokers are in from Texas and tested. New staff have been learning the nuances of Texas-style barbecue, and tables have been set up for outdoor dining.
With limited indoor dining set to start on July 2, the time looks right for Martin and his new partners, John Procaccini and Zissis Pappas of Gretalia Hospitality Group, to open their first joint venture.
BBQ aficionados first noticed the signs announcing the new restaurant in the windows of the former Pei Wei in October. Then, owner Matt Martin was hopeful of a late-2019 or early-2020 opening.
Between the normal uncertainties of opening a new restaurant and the coronavirus pandemic, those plans were dashed, and the aficionados have had to wait a little while longer.
When More Than Q opens, it will feature the award-winning meats and sides it has become known for since it first opened as a stand at the Stockton Farmers Market in 2014: brisket, smoked sausage, burnt-end baked beans, cheddar cheese grits and more.
“We’re going to be doing all the smoking on premises,” Lambertville pitmaster and Ewing resident Todd “Tod the Mod” Ellis told Community News in October. “We’ll have a pitmaster there and everything will be fresh and made to order, just like we do here (in Lambertville).”
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Chef Ron Spada started More Than Q up at the Stockton Farmers Market in 2014. He was in negotiations to bring on Martin as a partner when he decided to move to North Carolina instead.
Martin bought the business from his friend and took it over. In 2016, he opened a second stand at the farmers market in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Later that year, he opened up his first bricks-and-mortar restaurant in Lambertville and shut down the Stockton stand. Ellis, involved from the start, stayed on as pitmaster in Lambertville, and remains a fixture on Klines Court.
Fittingly for a Texas-style joint, More Than Q is known best for its brisket. In Texas, smoked brisket is widely considered to be at the top of the BBQ food chain.
But More Than Q’s menu features everything from pulled pork to wings to cornmeal-crusted chicken sandwiches and mac and cheese. Meats can be ordered as sandwiches or by the pound. Sides include collard greens, cornbread, fried pickles and cole slaw.
Ellis says there was a period of adjustment for More Than Q after Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all restaurant dining rooms shut down to arrest the spread of Covid-19. But he says they have done heavy takeout business, and even gained a lot of new customers during the pandemic.
They have also continued with their ongoing expansion project in Lambertville, where they have bought the adjacent Kline’s Court Antiques. When the project is completed, they will have a larger kitchen and more indoor seating. Martin says he will be happy if the Lambertville expansion is finished by the end of July.
“The whole pandemic thing hit us in the middle of what we’ve been working toward for 7–8 years,” Ellis says. “We’re really excited here in Klines Court. We’re going to be like a Texas Roadhouse. We have really big plans for this.”
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The new location also represents a new era for Martin in that it is his first time partnering with Gretalia Hospitality Group to manage a restaurant.
Martin has been planning to open a new More Than Q for a while now. But he thought that his next venture would be in the long-stalled Montgomery Promenade on Route 206 in Montgomery. LL Bean and Whole Foods have also been reported as prospective tenants for the proposed upscale shopping center near the Princeton Airport.
In January 2019, Martin opened Taylor Taco Shop in the Easton Farmer’s Market, alongside his BBQ stand there. The new eatery was a success, but left Martin stretched thin.
“The trajectory of the (overall) business has been fantastic, and I was really starting to see where things could go,” Martin says. “But I was running out of bandwidth between the three outlets. (To have) four of these things was going to be a challenge to pull off the way I wanted to. So I was thinking about looking for a partner to help me manage it.”
The day before he opened Taylor Taco Shop, Martin got a call from a representative of Gretalia, the Princeton-based company that manages five PJ’s Pancake Houses two Osteria Procaccinis and a Trattoria Procaccini in the greater Mercer area. The representative said Gretalia’s partners, John Procaccini and Zissis Pappas, were interested in being partners with Martin on a new More Than Q location.
“I said, ‘It’s interesting that you called, because I have been looking for a partner,’” Martin says.
After meeting with Procaccini and Pappas a few times, Martin agreed to go into business with Gretalia. “They had a bead on this place in West Windsor and we looked into it and it all worked out,” Martin says. “I certainly could see working with them on more things in the future.”
Like many popular barbecue restaurants, More Than Q often exhausts its supply of proteins before the day ends, especially on weekends when volume is highest. It takes three days to process brisket from butchering to service, and Ellis says even though he smokes 600 pounds of meat per weekend, when that food is gone, it’s gone.
The good news is, he says customers can ensure that they will get what they’re hungry for as long as they put in their orders ahead of time.
“Call any time during the daytime, you’re gold,” he says. “Saturday or Sunday, get that order in early and I guarantee we’ll have it for you. People who wait ’til 4 or 5 might be out of luck. But I always say: ‘Beware of your barbecue places that don’t sell out.”
More Than Q, 3522 U.S. 1, Princeton NJ 08540, (609) 624-4470; 13 Klines Court, Lambertville NJ 08530, (609) 773-0072.
(This story has been updated to add the details about the involvement of Gretalia Hospitality Group.)