Al Laudencia started Big Al’s BBQ by selling pulled pork sandwiches out of his garage in Adel.
“I went to grad school for business and I’m a behavioral scientist by trade. This isn’t something that I studied. This is truly a passion and a hobby,” Laudencia said.
Laudencia first learned the knack for cooking Southern BBQ nearly 20 years ago while working in the restaurant industry in Saint Louis. Then, when he moved back to Iowa, he purchased a smoker, which led to a career catering BBQ.
Laudencia’s first event was at the Adel Sweet Corn Festival. His local success quickly transformed from catering for nearby businesses to a food truck and ultimately opening his first restaurant on the East Side of Des Moines. From there, Big Al’s BBQ catered everything from election campaigns to large corporate events and it wasn’t long before he would relocate to his current location on the Southside of Des Moines.
“We got this place because the opportunity came about and they were looking specifically for a local BBQ place,” Laudencia said.
Now, after decades of perfecting the art of BBQ, Laudencia will once again return to his Adel roots and open a second restaurant located at 715 Main St.
“There’s not a lot of sit down family restaurants in Adel. So, I knew there was a demand,” Laudencia said. “Had it not been for Adel, we would not be where we are today. The plan is that we want to be part of the community, and I want to help Adel thrive.”
“We are thrilled that Big Al’s is filling a void in Adel. Big Al has had a food truck in Adel and we are excited for his new location to open. Restaurants are one of the top requested amenities from our residents,” Adel Partners Chamber of Commerce President Deb Bengtson added.
While Big Al’s BBQ signature dish is pulled pork, the restaurant’s current menu also includes smoked ribs, tenderloins, burgers and more. The restaurant also incorporates fusion dishes into their menu such as smoked pork tacos. Laudencia hopes to expand these dishes into pizza after obtaining an oven with the new location.
“Here’s what I’ve learned. There are two types of BBQ, good and bad. The similarities are so close. Everything lies in the sauce,” Laudencia said.
Since its inception, Big Al’s BBQ has been the recipient of multiple awards. The restaurant has not only been voted Top 3 BBQ restaurants in the Des Moines area by USA Today but was also voted best hamburger by Insider Magazine and is currently in the running for best smoked pork tenderloin by the Pork Producers.
Renovations on the Adel Big Al’s BBQ location are currently underway with the hopes of opening before the Adel Sweet Corn Festival. Once open, the restaurant also plans to continue its tradition of live music, local events and helping support organizations such as Susan G Komen.