Can A Food Truck Save This Brick And Mortar?
The Pitts BBQ Joint is a small BBQ restaurant located in the South of Richmond near the VA Hospital. Their restaurant has a huge fenced area with a backyard bar, fun bright colors, and a flair for nostalgia. The inside is covered with retro stickers, pictures of restaurants and bars that were popular years ago, and tons of pop culture. Pre-coronavirus, they had an open mic night, karaoke, movie night in the backyard on a giant blow-up screen, DJ Nights, and more. They've had to shift quite a bit in response to the pandemic. One of the first things they did to modify their business for survival was to add a drive-through window to make it easier for their guests to grab and go with the least amount of contact.
The same owners of The Pitts BBQ Joint also own The Locker Room Bar. With the new Veil Brewery coming in across the street from their building and the other commercial developments happening around them, they realized purchasing their building wasn't going to be possible. They started looking for another property and found The Pitts BBQ Joint building. They did some work to possibly move the Locker Room there to co-exist with The Pitts BBQ Joint as soon as they realized they would be able to create a place for their son with autism to learn and work as well. The building was kept smoke-free and more of a restaurant than a bar. Their son's involvement has been different during COVID-19, but they hope to get him back in for some training when things return to normal.
COVID-19 has affected The Pitts BBQ Joint tremendously. They had survived their first year in business without accruing any loans except for the mortgage on the property. Now, they have had to part with employees, redesign their building, and invest in a food truck. In total, they are trying to survive on very limited operable space and retaining employees who aren't getting tipped like they previously had, all while trying to protect themselves and their employees from this pandemic.
Moving forward and past next summer, it's time to adapt again.
Their restaurant is a unique place in a unique location. Their space is fun but very small inside. Their outdoor area saved them during COVID-19, but with winter quickly approaching they have shifted their focus to a food truck model. Their restaurant will remain open and continue to do take-out, but with the bar seats being unavailable they have only four tables. To try and make up this deficit, they have purchased a food truck and are taking it on the road. This could potentially keep their business afloat during the winter and beyond.
The Pitts BBQ Joint would like to think their ability to adapt and overcome is what separates them from the rest. The best way to support this business is by scheduling their food truck to come to neighborhoods, corporate mealtimes, corporate events, and continue to visit their restaurant to order take-out. For more information on The Pitts BBQ Joint, please visit their website at www.thepittsdive.com.