SILER CITY — New York City natives Brian Ferguson and Alex Maromaty share several similarities — both grew up in the borough of Queens, have a passion for food and community, and even moved to North Carolina around the same time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And now they’ve accomplished a shared dream: opening their own restaurant.
“Once we were both here, we had to do something together,” Maromaty said.
Fast forward to early March, when the duo made that dream come true with the opening of The Broken Spit — which serves up fresh brisket, pulled pork and a wide variety of Southern fixins to the people of Siler City and beyond at 2734 Old U.S. Hwy. 421 North.
Maromaty, who serves as The Broken Spit’s general manager, and Ferguson, who works as head chef, met while working at a restaurant called Tony Roma’s in New York City in 2013. But when the COVID-19 pandemic started in earnest in March 2020, the restaurant business took a massive hit, resulting in each making the independent decision to move south — Ferguson to Graham and Maromaty to Raleigh. Ferguson moved to be closer to family members who’ve gradually relocated to the region, and Maromaty moved to North Carolina for what he felt would be a good economic opportunity.
While they moved for different reasons, Ferguson said once he relocated, he wanted to reconnect with Maromaty to create a new eating spot in North Carolina.
“Alex and I definitely wanted to do something,” Ferguson said. “We looked at a bunch of different places and a bunch of different cities within a 20, 25 mile radius (of where we lived).”
The two found the perfect location in Siler City: a building site which previously held a variety of restaurants and a catering business. The property was already equipped with a kitchen, freezer and cooler storage and a dining area mostly ready for customers.
The next step was to figure out what cuisine the new eatery would offer, and Maromaty and Ferguson quickly made that decision when they noticed a lack of local barbecue options.
“We saw that there was only Smithfield’s (Chicken n’ Barbecue) here, so it’s not really a fresh barbecue spot,” Maromaty said. “We (have) put a lot of effort in making sure that the core of our menu stays true to us and true to who we are, which is just making things from scratch, making food fresh as ever and having our own mark on it.”
Broken Spit’s menu offers a wide variety of meat and sides — ranging from fresh smoked brisket to diverse sauce options, such as the classic vinegar based North Carolina sauce, Bourbon style sauce and more.
“The stuff that we have caters to most of the people that are around here, but then there’s a whole bunch of different things so people can try something new,” Ferguson said. “We’ve tried to have certain things that were completely different from the crowd to bring ourselves above the rest of the pack.”
The Broken Spit aims to bring a new life into classic barbecue, according to Maromaty. By providing a different experience, the restaurant provides customers with more of an ability to try new styles of barbecue typically found outside of Chatham County.
“A lot of people here are used to just plates where you get to order your meat, and you get two sides and stuff like that,” Maromaty said. “Me and Brian — both being chefs from New York, coming down here, working on this menu together and really trying to build it — I think we really came up with a good little menu.”
The community has come out to support them. In their first month, the pair says Broken Spit has received overwhelming praise from customers — and according to Maromaty, some say the barbecue is the best they’ve tasted.
“The people are really surprised that two New Yorkers serve up really good barbecue,” he said.
Ferguson said since opening, he’s received both praise and new ideas from customers regarding what tricks he could do to make his barbecue different or better than before.
“I think it’s awesome, and it’s fun to learn how opinionated people are on their barbecue,” he said. “There’s so many different ideas that we’ve even considered, and it’s fun to try to incorporate that kind of stuff into our menu and try to make every person that we can as happy as possible.”
The owners are looking to expand their business to provide more good eats to the Chatham County community. Maromaty said he and Ferguson are hoping to offer an outdoor seating area for customers, add beer to their menu and possibly turn one of the buildings outside of the restaurant into an ice cream shop.
“You’ll get the best of both worlds,” he said, “You’ll be able to come here and eat barbecue, grab a beer, sit outside or sit inside, and then be able to walk out with your family and grab some ice cream or a shake.”
Ferguson said by expanding the restaurant, customers will be able to get even more out of their experience at The Broken Spit.
“We really wanted to become more of a community place where everybody who comes in here can have something that they want,” he said. “The ice cream shop, once we get that open, and events that we have coming in (such as) bike shows, car shows, live music — all those kinds of things incorporate a reason for every kind of person to come here at least once.”
While Ferguson and Maromaty hope to continue expanding their business, they have grown to love their new home in North Carolina and the new community they serve in Siler City.
“Everyone here knows everybody, and I love that feeling,” Maromaty said, “Which is something that we’re not 100% used to coming from New York — being in the hospitality business, it’s something we do on a day-to-day basis in our stores, but once you leave there, it’s like a completely different world.”
“Southern hospitality” is something Ferguson has appreciated since he moved to North Carolina, and it has become something he’s grateful for in the food service industry.
“People make time for other people, and that’s a very important thing,” he said, “Everybody has the time to be able to put into a small conversation, everybody has the time to sit down and help a neighbor where in cities like New York it’s just nonstop.”
Maromaty and Ferguson want the community to understand the food they provide is not just a job to them — it’s a labor of love.
“Brian and I are family people — we care about the people close to us,” Maromaty said. “We care about giving back to the community for all of our blessings and everything that we get. That’s the type of people we are.”
Ferguson’s passion goes beyond smoking brisket or slow roasting a Boston butt for a pulled pork sandwich. He wants to continue his career cooking cuisine and serving up smiles to the Siler City residents who helped turn his dream into a reality.
“I see the people that walk in here and have really good food, a really good time and walk out of here with smiles on their faces,” he said. “That’s the reason that we got into this. We’re men of service — as long as we’re serving people and they’re happy, we’re just as happy.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at email@example.com.
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