Beach Bums

Two former bartenders by night and beach bums by day took their relaxed lifestyle on Maui and catapulted it into a smokin’ hot restaurant venture.

Dave Mecklenburg and Skip Hildreth are doing so swimmingly well at Beach Bums Bar, BBQ & Grill at Maalaea Harbor Shops since they left Moose McGillycuddy’s eight years ago that they’ll open another restaurant later this year.

“We are now in the midst of gutting the location in Napili Plaza to open the same concept as we have in Maalaea hopefully in November,” says Mecklenburg. “We’ve also just named John Pope as our new general manager. He hired Skip and I at Moose’s back in 1989.”

Their smokin’ hot concept focuses on the state’s largest smoker that slow cooks up to 1,200 pounds of prime rib, turkey, drunken chicken, pulled pork, beef brisket and racks of ribs all at once. The aromas are incredible and enticing all at once.

“When we opened, we had a third partner who worked at a barbecue joint in Oklahoma and he said he had a million-dollar idea. He brought all of the award-winning recipes and we had a smoker custom built in Mesquite, Texas. It uses all wood, no gas. We like a combo of kiawe and guava woods to make it taste just right.”

But the smoker permits weren’t available for one year after opening.

“Can you imagine having a pizza parlor with no pizza? It was a wild ride. But we’ve been on a steady climb. Now that so many other Maalaea restaurants have closed, we are just jumping.”

For breakfast, sip hangover helpers of $3 Bloody Marys and screwdrivers and flex your tanned beach-bum muscles over crab cake Benedict, biscuits and gravy and prime rib loco moco.

Over lunch and dinner, tourists fresh off the boats mingle with surfers and nearby condo dwellers as they sip cold brews and sink their teeth into sliced brisket, fresh fish and choice of 12 salads. Fresh from boats in Maalaea harbor comes fish ‘n’ chips, mahi mango wraps, blackened or grilled fish tacos, mahi Caesars and fresh fish entrees with two sides and cornbread. Speaking of sides, they are plentiful and include mac and cheese, baked beans, green-bean casserole, potato-mac salad, pineapple coleslaw and French fries. Oh yes, Maui’s beloved white steamed rice, too.

With nightly music, casual and fun decor and soul-satisfying food with plenty to take home for later at reasonable prices, Beach Bums epitomizes fun. Just like at Moose’s, silly signs hang everywhere in the restaurant, reading: “No working during drinking hours,” “Free beer tomorrow” and “I got a new surfboard for my wife and it was the best trade I ever had.”

Customers wearing T-shirts and shorts tap their rubber slippers to the music as they sip from 11 beers on tap and munch on tempura shrimp and chips, fried zucchini, nachos, Maui Cattle Co. burgers and smoked eggplant parmesan sandwiches.

“Our top sellers are beef brisket and baby back ribs,’ says new Executive Chef Megan Leake. “It’s a big menu and we cover a lot of bases. Lobster night on Tuesdays is hugely popular and so is the rib fest on Wednesdays. We do about 60 full racks per night. People just love the sauces.”


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