Juicy Lucy crowned ‘Brisket King’ of NYC. Meanwhile, expect music, movies and horseshoes in Ocean Breeze. - silive.com

Juicy Lucy crowned ‘Brisket King’ of NYC. Meanwhile, expect music, movies and horseshoes in Ocean Breeze. – silive.com

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — In the company of big players in the barbecue world, one Staten Island restaurant shone brightly enough to score the title of New York City’s “Brisket King 2021.” Richie Holmes of Juicy Lucy took home the top prize at a NYC BBQ-sponsored competition for the second year.

The Ocean Breeze smokehouse also won the People’s Choice award.

A euphoric Holmes said, “We worked very hard. People were saying it was the best brisket they’ve ever had in their lives. The judges came back for seconds and thirds. I had a feeling that things were going to go our way.” But hearing the restaurant’s name along with “Staten Island” called aloud summoned up an indescribable sense of pride in Holmes to associate the title of “best” with his hometown.

Holmes adds a trophy to his growing collection of prize hardware as well as a new knife, courtesy of sponsor Kiucichi.

Originally, Juicy Lucy started its winning meat streak with pro Max Chieftari at the smoking helm; he led the ‘cue team in its inaugural top prize moment in 2019. But that chef is now establishing his own set of restaurants in Egypt. In the meantime, Holmes tweaked some Juicy Lucy techniques and served as the pit master himself for this year’s competition.

Said Holmes, “The brisket tenderness is on a whole other level.”

At the contest, James Cruse of “Central City Barbecue” came from New Orleans to make his Texas-style Snake River Farms American Wagyu Brisket with Cajun brisket dirty rice and “pickle mix.” Third place went to Robert Austin Cho of Kimchi Smoke for a most creative combo — his “Chonut.” This creation translated to a glazed donut sandwich stuffed with brisket and slaw, then topped with “Fatcho” sauce.

Leland Avellino of Avellino Family Barbecue of Stamford, CT won a year’s worth of New York State’s own Cabot Cheese thanks to a brisket sandwich with house-cured jalapeños.

Chef Jesse Jones from New Jersey was awarded the “Unsung Hero” award for a dish honoring his mother — smoked brisket with Creole mustard, marinated house cucumbers and his mother’s buttermilk yeast biscuits.

The Blue Smoke crew at Brisket King, 2021 (Courtesy of Miguel Rivas)

Other contenders included Carlitos Tacos from Paramus, N.J., Firefighters Eric Howard and Aaron Clark plus Stephen Shea of Gramercy Ale House, Manhattan, Handsome Devil from Newburgh, N.Y., Queens Bully from Queens, N.Y. and Gentle Giant Brewing Co. from Pearl River, N.Y. From Manhattan came Pulkies, Blue Smoke and Hill Country BBQ.

Richie Holmes at the Juicy Lucy bar in Ocean Breeze (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)


Plans for Juicy Lucy include the drive-on movie schtick started during the pandemic. Screens for the 2021 season will be delivered this week and the first movie will happen this weekend, kicking off with Jaws.

The food-and-a -flick format has been a boon to the Ocean Breeze eatery.

“Just the drive-in movie employs 35 people. It allows us to stay open. And it gives people a place to be safe and enjoy a movie — with their immediate circle around them in the car,” said Holmes.

He detailed the season ahead and said, “This summer we’ll be doing concerts in the afternoon on Saturdays. We’re also bringing back our horseshoes before Memorial Day.”

Juicy Lucy hours have changed. Going forward, the restaurant is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from noon until 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon until 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. It can be found at at 809 Father Capodanno, 718-979-1888; JuicyLucyBBQ.com.

Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at silvestri@siadvance.com.

This content was originally published here.