NEW ALBANY — Marshaun Long started cooking for his family as his kid. His mother worked all day, and when she came home, she often returned to a full meal courtesy of Long.
Preparing small dinners turned into helping with extended family Thanksgiving feasts. In 2008, Long opened up a makeshift restaurant in his cinderblock garage, which quickly became a popular weekend destination for his neighbors.
Now, Long’s slinging dishes for an even wider audience as the owner of Baby Mae’s, a new barbecue and soul food restaurant at the old Mom & Pop’s Cone Corner building on Graybrook Lane. And people are liking what he’s cooking.
“It’s been non-stop,” Long said.
He’s open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Monday (Long still works full-time). Customers show up right at noon and are still knocking on his windows at 8 p.m.
Long had been looking for a real restaurant location for around two years when his firefighter cousin introduced him to Casey Hornung, the former owner of Mom & Pop’s.
Hornung and his wife took over the almost 30-year-old outdoor ice cream shop from Hornung’s uncle in 2015, but inbetween their full-time jobs and young son, the couple were only able to stay open for one season.
They’ve been looking for a good candidate to lease their property since then — someone that could recapture Hornung’s uncle and grandparent’s success.
“Hopefully Marshaun can do the same thing and get a good business going there,” Hornung said.
Long opened Baby Mae’s around two weeks ago, and he serves just about every comfort food imaginable at the restaurant: ribs, pulled pork, smoked turkey, mac and cheese, home fries and a “grandaddy of chili dogs.”
Long is keeping his food prices low and still plans on offering a $5 Friday special he started serving in his garage. Customers receive an entree and two sides with their inexpensive meal.
On Oct. 7, Long is throwing a grand opening for Baby Mae’s. It’ll be the start of something big, he hopes. Long already has dreams of franchising his restaurant. First, he’ll open a second Baby Mae’s location in Jeffersonville, then two more in Louisville, followed by locations in Indianapolis and Ohio.
“Honestly, I’m so confident in this, you’re going to see Baby Mae’s wrapped around this globe before it’s all over,” he said.
Eventually, Long wants to open what he describes as his own “Haven House” (a homeless shelter in Jeffersonville), but just for food, not housing.
“I want to feed as many people as I possibly can,” he said. “Just me. Not no outside organization.”
For now, Long is still preoccupied with small things like how he’ll operate his outdoor restaurant during the winter. Long currently plans on offering a drive up service, delivery and catering.
Whatever happens, he’ll work through it. Long isn’t the type to let life happen to him. He started his garage restaurant when he wanted to prove to his cousin that it was possible to do anything.
His mom also used to work two jobs, and is just now retiring from Louisville Gas & Electric after 44 years.
“We’re go-getters,” he said. “And so, we strive.”