Lo­cal Fla­vor: McClard's Bar­beque

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - News - Story by Cari El­liott, pho­tog­ra­phy by Mara Kuhn

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,

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