Full Moon Bar-b-que: Restaurant Showcase

Terry Taylor and Willie Bradford have worked in front of Full Moon’s wood burning barbecue pit since the location opened in 2001.

At Full Moon, barbecue and sports stars go hand in hand.

Charles Barkley comes by the 280 location regularly to eat ribs back in the kitchen. Gene Bartow was known to have eaten at the original location downtown at least twice a week. Local favorite Bart Starr is a fan.

Photos of football greats and other sports memorabilia line the walls of the restaurant.

“I know a majority of the people in here,” said David Maluff, who owns the restaurants with his brother, Joe.

Dorothy Denson worked for Tom James at the original Full Moon starting in 1988. Today she still eats dark meat chicken, baked beans, potato salad and chocolate pie almost every day. Photos by Madoline Markham.

The brothers are big supporters of UAB sports and supply pregame meals at University of Alabama games.

Full Moon ships barbecue across state lines to Joe Namath, a friend of the Maluffs, in Florida, as well as others.

“When a new coach comes to town, the SEC brings them to eat with us,” Maluff said. “I have met everyone from Lou Holtz to Kirk Herbstreit.”

In fact, the whole restaurant chain started with a football great.

Football coach Pat James, who was Bear Bryant’s assistant for years, opened the original 50-seat restaurant downtown in the early 1980s with wife, Eloise. The name was inspired by James’ favorite restaurant, Moonlight Barbecue in Owensboro, Ky.

It was then that their tried-and-true recipes were born: the sweet baked beans with sautéed vegetables; tangy barbecue sauce, also made with freshly sautéed veggies; the crispy half moon chocolate chip cookies dipped in chocolate; their crispy outer pork that Frank Stitt named in the top five dishes to eat in Birmingham; and of course their chow chow relish, essential to every plate and sandwich of barbecued meats served. It’s no surprise that more than 30 years later, their cookies and sweet vinaigrette slaw have been named to the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” by the Alabama Department of Tourism.

The Maluffs have not changed any of the original recipes, but they have added to the menu significantly, including potatoes, salads and chicken tenders. The Greek salad with pulled chicken is popular with women, according to Maluff, and they recently added a Caesar salad with grilled chicken tenders to the menu.
The Birmingham natives operated a restaurant in Panama City before buying Full Moon from James in 1996, so they brought a taste of Florida back in their key lime pie. The pie is now one of their top sellers.

About a year ago, Full Moon added a vegetable of the day: Monday is pinto beans, Tuesday black-eyed peas, Wednesday squash casserole, Thursday steamed cabbage, Friday butter beans, Saturday mashed potatoes and gravy and Sunday squash casserole and steamed cabbage. Maluff said the squash casserole is the biggest seller. All of these are available on a vegetable plate along with their other sides.

Maluff also points out that they are committed to the communities around their restaurants. They know a location like the one on Highway 280 appeals to families and try to cater to them. They also work around school schedules for high school employees, many of whom go to Oak Mountain or Spain Park high schools.

Full Moon Bar-b-que
4635 US Highway 280
Mon. – Thurs., 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m. – 10p.m.
Sun., 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.


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