On an extremely hot and muggy evening in May, I found myself feeling sorry for my unfortunate lot in life. No beach, no pool in sight, no topless supermodels, whining for more cocktails in eastern block accents, just me, my cat and my computer, working to bring the people some good news about the state of Michigan, when, suddenly, Skynyrd, shot through the speakers, singing Sweet Home Alabama – forcing me to recall some damn fine BBQ.
A quick trip to Hoggers, Berkley Mi., and I was in pork heaven. Windows open, fans running, with smoky goodness wafting through the air, the only thing missing were those Southern Belles, in long blond hair and confederate bikinis.
No matter. I sat in a booth and was immediately greeted by owner, Michael Goodman, a Florida boy, who got into the business of BBQ after recognizing a Metropolitan need for more of this southern tradition. The sign out front said something about Hoggers besting Slows BBQ (Detroit) in some readers poll or another – a debate I don’t care to enter at present – so I asked Mike if he could whip me up a sampler, this being my first time and all, and he proudly came back with the answers to all of my current problems.
Ribs, a brisket sandwich, pulled pork and two sides – mac n cheese & bbq beans – and I quickly lost myself tangy erotica. Mouth full, sauce on my nose, and feeling comfortable, I took a moment to finally give the place a good look. The staff was hard at work, laughing, greeting customers and genuinely enjoying themselves. The restaurant is small, clean, offers several booths for guests and seems to do a big carryout business, offering box lunches – sandwich, fries and drink- for $5.49 between 11 am and 4 pm.
Hoggers is a fine addition to a small town that has slowly and quietly been gaining on everyone else. While Berkley’s local feel is still intact, business owners have been doing a fine job of creating their own fingerprint as a hip little place to enjoy. If only the old theatre were still in operation. Get there before the condos and you’ll get a taste of what the rebirth of Royal Oak was like in the 90’s.
Good luck, Mike. Love your place and will be happy to recommend Hoggers to anyone!