Commitment to the customer and community is the cornerstone of Biggie's.
Biggie’s Clam Bar has brought a taste of New Jersey to Kingsport, with the recent opening of its third location at 417 W. Stone Dr. The completely gutted and newly renovated building has a fun, family atmosphere that includes a separate dining room, bar room and its signature raw bar.
Founded by Joseph (Biggie) Yaccarino and his son, Michael (Brother Biggie), in 1946 in Hoboken, N.J., Biggie’s is currently operated by the fourth generation of family. During the 1930s, Yaccarino was a Vaudeville comedian and singer and performed under the stage name, "Joe Biggie and the Blackbirds."
Around 1941, Yaccarino family lore says, "Joe decided to place his fate with clams," and started selling clams on the half shell to Hoboken taverns. In 1946, Joe recruited his son, Michael (Brother Biggie), to join the raw clam business and open a permanent establishment in Hoboken. The pair opened Biggie’s Clam Bar in a red brick building, on the corner of Third and Madison, which has become a Hoboken institution.
According to Mike Ranuro, a member of the fourth generation now operating Biggie’s, the first permanent location mainly catered to providing quality, quick-serve food like hot dogs, cheesesteaks, fresh seafood and, of course, their signature raw clams on the half shell. The small family operation stayed relatively the same until the late 1990s when both Hoboken and Biggie’s experienced a Renaissance of sorts and Biggie’s expanded the location and menu.
In 2010, Biggie’s opened its first full-service restaurant on Route 17 in Carlstadt, N. J. It was here that Biggie’s expanded its menu and formulated its model of separate dining and bar rooms for customer convenience and to appeal to a more diverse audience.
As the business grew, the family looked for additional locations. "My aunt, Theresa Lockhart, knew we were looking for a third location," Ranuro explained. "She said there was a restaurant location available that looks a lot like (what) we have on Route 17 in New Jersey."
Ranuro admitted Kingsport may seem a far stretch from New Jersey, but Theresa has family in Kingsport. Her father, Amos Lockhart, has roots in the region for over a hundred years.
The family came down and looked at the location on West Stone Drive and decided it was for them.
"We liked the location. We liked the city. We found the people in Kingsport to be very nice and accommodating so we decided as a family to go ahead and open a Biggie’s in Kingsport."
When asked if he was the least bit superstitious about placing a restaurant in a location given its history, and its high turnover, where so many others have failed, Ranuro offered a definite, "No."
"While we understand the history of the location in Kingsport, our location on Route 17 in New Jersey is very similar. It has been multiple businesses in the last 10 to 15 years. We got the same response from people when we took it over, but it has turned out great. I think Stone Drive is an excellent location. It’s a high traffic area and a great community. I think if people will give us a shot, they will see we are not like what has been there before. I think they will like us."
Ranuro points to the fact that they are family-owned, family-managed and fully committed to running this restaurant the right way as attributes that make Biggie’s different. So far, the Ranuroes have been pleased with the reception from Kingsport. "We’ve been very pleased. We’ve had a great reception since we opened. We’re happy with the crowds and the community," Ranuro said.
Biggie’s traditional menu from Hoboken has been complimented with freshly-shucked oysters, tuna tacos, shrimp and grits, award-winning ribs and burgers, plus an outstanding selection of wine and beer. Biggie’s increased its fare to include more fresh seafood and a larger American cuisine.
"In Kingsport we also have the unique ability to serve a very diverse customer base.ã€€ We're a restaurant first and have a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.ã€€ We also have 24 beers on tap andã€€Biggie's is a great place to watch the game, so whatever their dining interests, we'd love for people to give us a try." Biggie’s offers "Kids eat free" on Mondays and a lunch menu with quality items for $8 or less.
As with all of its locations, Biggie’s has brought its same values to Kingsport - tradition, quality, consistency, stability and a firm commitment to its customers, employees, suppliers and community.
Commitment to the customer and community is the cornerstone of Biggie’s.
"Through four generations, we have maintained a feeling of family and community. We will not deviate from these values," Ranuro said.
Biggie’s is located at 417 W. Stone Drive and opens at 11a.m. every day. It closes at 1 a.m., Monday through Thursday, 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and midnight on Sunday. For more information, visit the website at http://www.biggiesclambar.com/ and the local Facebook page, Biggie’s Tennessee, for daily specials.comments powered by Disqus