Wendy Alexander/Madera Tribune file photo
Petrucci’s staff gather for one last barbecue at the Old School House restaurant last season. The restaurant will re-open Saturday. Front row from left, Teri Skinner, Julio Cabrera, Dina Petrucci. Back row from left, Lucca Petrucci, Veronica Martinez, Anna Cabrera, Mika Petrucci and Hector Romo.
The smell of tri-tip hits the nostrils of Madera residents, one place they remember going for barbecue — the old Howard Schoolhouse at 23527 Avenue 14.
Petrucci’s BBQ at the Old School House will reopen for the summer Saturday and every Saturday until October from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We opened one week later than last week because I had a wedding to attend last week,” Mika Petrucci said. “When it’s the whole family at the wedding, there’s no one to run the barbecue pit.”
Petrucci said to come early because she plans to be busy all day long.
For the most part, we were busy,” Petrucci said of last year’s opening. “People would come as early as 8 a.m. and we were busy all day. There were quite a few Saturdays we closed early because we sold out of everything. The response has been good this year. We are anticipating the same crowd this weekend.
“My mom has been keeping notes on how much we sold each week. My grandpa (Dino) kept all those numbers in his head. When my mom took over, he said to take notes to see what we were selling. We were at the barbecue pit today to make the sauce. Overall, the response has been really positive. Hopefully, it will remain busy.”
The Petruccis plan on barbecuing 120 tri-tips and it will be split in half to use in sandwiches and sold in whole. In addition to tri-tip sandwiches, Petrucci’s also will serve potato salad, scalloped potatoes and peach cobbler.
For the most part, people can call early to order tri-tips, but Petrucci said don’t call on Saturday. Call Thursday or Friday and they will do their best to fill the order.
“We do say if you have a large order to call ahead and we can get it ready,” she said. “On the first and last day, it was impossible to take orders. I anticipate that again this Saturday. There are people who will call ahead and we will try to fill it. The first and last day, we were so busy I told my mom not to answer the phone.”
In addition to feeding people, Petrucci said one of the joys of opening the BBQ pit each year is seeing all the familiar faces.
“That’s the reason why we do it,” she said. “We like to meet our friends and like to see customers that have turned into friends over the years. Our schedule is not a traditional schedule. It’s nice that we have awesome people that when we’re open, they come to us.”
Petrucci will be there every Saturday with her mother Dina, family friend, Teri Skinner and barbecuer Hector Romo.
“We’ll have other people come in and out, like my cousin Lucca Petrucci or my fiancé Mark Flores come and help us out,” Petrucci said. “It’s a lot of work. When you have one day off a week, it’s stressful. Overall, it’s worth it. We’ll have people come and remember my grandparents. They will come and tell me stories of my grandpa or grandma. It kind of puts it into perspective as to why we’re still open. It’s what my grandpa loved and what he would have wanted. This is what his legacy would be.”
To pre-order, call Dina Petrucci at 706-0987.