Owner: Ken Looney
How many Looney’s locations are there? We have two locations in Oakland — one on Martin Luther King at 53rd and one at 19th and Harrison. We also cater for events up to 5,000 people.
When did you start serving Looney’s Bar-B-Que at Scobie’s? This is our third week.
How did you connect with Scobie’s? One of my cooks actually lives here, upstairs. There have been a couple of other restaurants here that failed. It seemed like a challenge to me because we know our barbecue is good. We just have to get people to come in here and try it.
How did you develop your interest in barbecue? While I was in the Navy, I spent 10 years on the East Coast, and that’s where I got influenced by the North Carolina-style sauce. When I moved back to California, I started craving it and couldn’t find it so I bought a little smoker and learned how to do it myself. I realized that if I was going to eat the way I like, I was going to have to do it myself. I just started experimenting.
Is the menu the same at all three locations? It’s almost the same. We took a couple of things like the bread sticks and the French onion soup off the menu here [in Alameda] because the kitchen doesn’t have the same equipment. But we’ll be adding items like fried calamari since this is more of a bar scene.
We have all the barbecue items here including hot links. We buy the highest quality meats including filet mignon, which we serve with a black pepper crust. We smoke all of our meats — brisket, pork, chicken, spare ribs, beef short ribs — with apple wood.
We pretty much make everything from scratch. We even have our own baker and make our own French rolls for our sandwiches. We make gumbo and chili. A lot of people come in for our gumbo, which is very authentic. We let one guy use our chili recipe in the chili cook-off a couple of years ago and it took second place.
The mac and cheese is our number one side. It’s made with heavy cream, cheddar cheese, American cheese and a little bit of our dry rub to add a kick. We also have collard greens, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes.
How many kinds of BBQ sauce do you serve? We have 10 sauces. When we first opened, I just had the Texas Spicy, which was what we used at home. I like my food with a kick to it. Over time, I developed the other sauces because people brought them to our attention. For instance, Smokey Mountain Ike, which has plum sauce as its base, came from one of our managers who’s from Virginia. Our Susie-Q Honey barbecue sauce is named after my wife, whose name is Susie.
This is our newest one — called Devil’s XXX — because it’s made with ghost pepper, which is the hottest pepper in the world. Ghost pepper has a Scoville rating over 800,000. That’s 3,000 times hotter than the habanero. If it wasn’t for the sugar in the sauce, you wouldn’t be able to eat it. Your face would explode! It’s different from cayenne, which burns your mouth. With Devil's XXX, you can really feel the kick in your sinuses. When we introduced it at the barbecue cook-off at the Oakland Coliseum last July, people kept coming back to get more.
Can people buy your sauces? Yes, they can get them at the restaurants. The Devil's XXX is $20 a bottle and the other sauces are $15 a bottle.
We’ve had people driving in from Sacramento and San Jose and buying a couple of bottles at time. They enjoy it so much.
Hours: 11 a.m.–9 p.m. at Scobie's Sports Bar and Grill, 2413 Central Ave., Alameda. Telephone: 263-9589.