OCEAN CITY – The Pit & Pub is gearing up for the fall season as football is back in action and so is the restaurant’s BBQ and homemade comfort food to go along with it.
Pit & Pub Smokehouse and Seafood, located on 28th Street and Coastal Highway, opened on May 20, 2010.
At the time, Steve Hoffman and Mike Horsey had a couple of decades under their belt working in other local restaurants and found it time to venture out on their own.
Hoffman had worked at Crab Alley for 20 years and from there he was the general manager at the Marlin Club and Micky Finns when the Pit & Pub location, formally Booty’s Bar and Grill, became available.
Hoffman and Horsey had been friends for at least 15 years working in close vicinity to each other. Horsey had worked at Harborside Bar and Grill and Pickles Pub for a number of years.
“After 20 years of working for other people, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it was time to give it a shot,” Hoffman said. “It is one of those things that you don’t know if you don’t try.”
Horsey said owning your own business is like anything else, it has its ups and downs but it’s worth it.
“When you’re heading to work every day, you know you’re doing it for yourself and that is an award enough,” Horsey said. “It is still a job … its more work doing it on your own but in the long run that’s what we are here for.”
While waiting for the negotiation process for the new business site to play out, the two kicked around ideas for the restaurant thinking of what Ocean City was missing.
Hoffman pointed out that Booty’s was a crab house but there are also numerous crab houses in Ocean City and knew the best choice was to go in a different direction.
With both Hoffman and Horsey working in West Ocean City, they noticed the parking lot of Smokers BBQ Pit in West Ocean City was packed every day and realized the need for a smokehouse on island.
“There really is nothing else in town doing what we do and we have even made it a little bit different as far as having just a smokehouse to adding seafood and different comfort food,” Hoffman said. “That is how Pit & Pub came about — to do something different, to stand out in the overcrowded industry here and the name was pretty much a fly by night.”
In the last two years, Pit & Pub’s menu has evolved but its basis for barbeque has remained the same.
“We have expanded and it is a work in progress as we find out what sells and what doesn’t sell,” Hoffman said. “We have our staple, we are not going to get away from the barbeque, it is working for us.”
Pit & Pub’s menu offers appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and even family portions to go. Catering and room for private parties is available.
Appetizers Smoked Buffalo Wings and Crab Dip served with small pretzel bites have become a favorite, as well as the Carolina Pulled Pork and Cuban sandwich, which is pulled pork with smoked ham, gouda, pickles and mustard.
The Barnyard Combo has also become a popular entrée with half fried chicken and half ribs as well as the Pub Tub feast that has two lobster claws, a pound of snow crab legs, six clams, one pound of mussels, andouille, half pound of shrimp, onions, potatoes, corn and lemon.
“It is all homemade and made from scratch, everything on the menu,” Horsey said.
Hoffman said this winter’s menu is expected to come out on Oct. 1 and will feature more comfort food, such as Chicken Pot Pie and Pot Roast.
The Pit & Pub is open year-round with daily lunch and dinner specials in the off-season. Happy hour is 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. NFL specials will be available during game times on the weekends.
Also, Mondays offers all-you-can-eat wings and shrimp for $15, and Thursdays is locals night with half priced drinks 10 p.m.-2 a.m.
Future plans are in the works at the Pit & Pub as the building is looking to get a facelift with a new front exterior and an extended bar.
“We are what we are, we are a barbeque smokehouse,” Hoffman said. “Come in and relax, watch some football and eat some good food.”
Hoffman and Horsey were quick to mention they couldn’t be on-site and involved operators without their wives, Jennifer and Nadine, who have backed them up 100 percent.
“This is it,” Hoffman said. “I want to be here for another 20 years.”
Hoffman and Horsey are both from Baltimore, born and raised, and are naturally Ravens fans. The Pit & Pub reflects their fan base with large black and purple flags proudly waving above the restaurant.
Upon opening, the Council of Ravens Roost approached them in becoming Ravens Roost #58 and they happily obliged, although they are not members themselves.
Coincidently directly across the street, Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon is a bar representing the Ravens ultimate rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Hoffman and Horsey said “it is all in good fun” and although they may play some minor pranks on each other, they remain good friends.
As a matter of fact they have planned a Ravens vs. Steelers 5K on Nov. 17 to be held on the Boardwalk to raise money for the Children’s House by the Sea and the Ocean City Paramedics Foundation.