By Rebecca Fending
The South is no stranger to what makes barbecue, especially when it comes to techniques and philosophies that create great meats. This same sentiment goes for the Maluff brothers, David and Joe, of Full Moon BBQ. Taken over in 1996, this barbecue brand has made a name for itself throughout the South.
David explains that growing up, Maluff family life revolved around food. “We come from a family of food. We’re Lebanese; everything revolves around food. And when it came to sharing and cooking food, Mediterranean cuisine is always popular.” From this love of cultural food came his mother’s catering business. Working out of the family home’s kitchen, Mama Maluff made food for anyone who came to Birmingham, Alabama and was looking for Lebanese or Mediterranean-style food. “We were born into the food business. We just had a sense of what would work, and that really adds up after working with food since I was 15,” says David.
Full Moon BBQ’s story begins in 1986, when Pat “Coach” James, of University of Alabama, LSU, University of Oklahoma fame, and his wife, Eloise, bought and operated the first Full Moon BBQ location in southern Birmingham. In 1996, the Maluff brothers made Coach an offer he couldn’t refuse after falling in love with the brand’s mode of operation and beliefs. The brothers soon took over the barbecue brand. From then on, Full Moon BBQ has blossomed into a household name for many across the South.
Full Moon BBQ specializes in traditional, old-fashioned Southern barbecue using a wood-burning hickory pit in each restaurant location. David says this is because these traditional pits make for the best barbecue pork and chicken, while Full Moon also uses a smoker for brisket and wings.
Everything served at Full Moon BBQ is made from scratch using recipes and techniques David loves. “Our coleslaw is marinated in a vinaigrette, which I love,” he says. And other people love the slaw, too, as evidenced by the number of various copycat recipes floating around on Pinterest and other recipe-related sites.
David’s favorite menu item is the BBQ pork sandwich, sliced outside (charred burnt meat “bar”) and paired with Full Moon BBQ’s chow chow, which is sold nationwide on their website. Turkey, brisket, pork and chicken also grace the menu, all made fresh daily. “There's something for everybody. With everything made from scratch,” David says.
When it comes to Mississippi-influence on Full Moon, David explains that the state had a large impact on the brothers. “I love the family values of Mississippi. I’m in Madison, and that town, to me, is a diamond. It’s a great town. Between the schools and restaurants, everyone wants to be here,” David explains. “Madison is big on community; it gives us a great opportunity to find ourselves in our community.”
Full Moon’s only Mississippi location is currently in Madison, where the menu boasts a dish exclusive to the state. The Soul Bowl, named for the Southern soul so unique to Mississippi, is a portion of stone-ground grits, topped with fresh collard greens and your protein of choice (pork, blackened shrimp, chicken, brisket, etc.). Crispy, thin onion rings dress the top to complete this bowl of southern comfort.
David explains that the brand’s success is attributed to, “Our love of food, love of taking care of guests, it just makes us happy. If you serve a truly good product, which we do, it’s so satisfying to see repeat customers for generations to come.”
Full Moon BBQ also offers a range of barbecue-related products. From their Southern Seasoning to their Alabama White Sauce that’s great for salads, fries and any white meat, you can enjoy a taste of Full Moon in your own kitchen.
Today, there are 17 Full Moon BBQ locations, and the Maluff brothers are looking to expand. David says that the future is bright for Full Moon BBQ. “For as much as we love Mississippi, we’re really looking forward to moving throughout the state.” For more information, a full menu and to order products, visit fullmoonbbq.com.