Local Flavor: McClard's Barbeque
Hot Springs residents have guessed at the secret ingredients to the famous McClard's Barbecue sauce for decades, but the real secret to their success is the family's dedication to serving the public and a strict adherence to tradition.
“Old timers come in and say `your grandfather made me the same sandwich that you made for me today, and it tastes the same,'” said Scott McClard, co-owner of the popular downtown diner. “That's what makes you feel good.”
Scott's uncle, Philip McClard, also a co-owner, agrees. “People can go away for twenty years, come back, and say nothing's changed. It's nostalgic, and they love it.”
“And that's why we're so successful,” adds Scott, “we keep things the same. We don't turn everything over to the staff and leave. We're down here, aunts and uncles, to make sure it tastes the same as twenty years ago.”
McClard's began in 1928 with Alex and Gladys McClard, and four generations later the family is still going strong. The majority of the McClard family has worked in the restaurant at some point, but now it is “mostly” ran by Philip, Scott and John Thomason.
But Scott and Philip agree that working with family everyday is not all sunshine and rainbows. “There's a lot of hoops to jump through,” Scott explains. “It makes things a little tense sometimes. You have to pick your battles.”
A normal day for the duo is daunting: Philip arrives at the restaurant at 2 a.m. to prep for service. He mixes 10-12 3-gallon buckets of McClard's famous sauce and prepares the beans and tamale meat. He puts approximately 200 pounds of ribs in the pit,