A bit of history.
After over 35 years I am still trying to duplicate the ribs and bbq sauce I had the good fortune of tasting at Joe Gray’s ribshack which was located along the Mon river along side the railroad track around Monongahela PA. Just today, an old friend and I were chatting about the recipe and in my searches (googling) I came across this forum. Several of you name Jerome as the proprietor of the shack. Here is what I know.
I frequented the ribshack from the late 60’s through early to mid 70’s, as well as I can recall. My friends and I made the trip all year round from Washington PA as often as we could even though in inclement weather the off road dirt tracks down to the shack were sometimes difficult to manuever. The shack was open for business 2 days a week -tuesday and either friday or saturday. Those two days, at the crack of dawn, Joe Gray (or was it Grey?) with his helpers Buddy and Red, began cooking ribs, chicken, porkchops, and hotdogs for a bar Joe had, which I believe was in Elizabeth PA., as well as for his “locals”. Talk about slow cooking! Food was not ready for customers until around 3pm or later.
The shack was indeed just that….a shack with a big open pit grill in the center of the room and stand up counters around it on three sides. If you wanted to sit you took your food outside and sat on your car bumper. Heavy plastic was tacked up where windows used to be. The floor was dirt. The grill was 4-5ft high and in the back the huge vats of MILD, HOT, and BATMAN sauces sat on part of the grill made up of, well, bedsprings. Joe used whatever wood was available in his pit and in times where good wood was not readily available that included old railroad ties. Finished ribs, etc., were stored in newspaper lined wicker laundry baskets and kept in coolers in the shack next door. Yes, there was electricity. The meat was served on paper plates drenched in sauce with a couple of pieces of white bread. Joe sold soft drinks, and although he hid beer in the cooler, he would not sell it to customers. This is why.
The jungle club was mentioned in some of the posts. I guess at one time this obscure, hidden area was an after hours place of sorts. There was a small concrete building not many steps away from Joe’s ramshackle rib place. Anyway, according to Joe, someone had been shot at the jungle club and the cops shut it down. My guess is that police had been paid off to ignore the area until this major situation occurred. I can’t say for certain but after all this I’m sure Joe must have been paying off whomever in order to maintain a sub-standard restaurant. Much later the (new? original?) owner of the jungleclub -Jerome- opened a rib place there. Everyone continued to patronize Joe’s with incredibly few going to Jeromes. After a length of time the spare shack next door where Joe stored his meat mysteriously burned down to the ground. These places of course were tinder boxes still it was unlikely that there was not a helping hand in the start of this fire. Joe kept his ribshack open. And still, few people frequented Jeromes. I don’t remember how long it was after the first burning incident, but the last time we went for ribs we found Joe’s shack had been burned to the ground. Word was it was Jerome who had done the deed. Jerome’s was open for business but we refused to eat his bbq and never returned to the area. Apparently Jerome usurped the ribshack traditon along with its customers and any new bbq seekers in the area.
Joes sauce was very thin and not at all sweet tasting. I think that’s why I liked it so much. If you read the label on the bottled bbq sauce today the first ingredient is usually high fructose corn syrup. YUK. Anyway, for those with any interest, I was once desperate enough to rummage through Joe’s garbage cans in search,20,550340.002001001001001002001001001001001001002001001002001001001001002003001001,24,108259,22.214.171.124
574331,574172,574327,2010-03-13 06:04:54.397000000,Re:Opinion Central Pop-up Survey”