Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que celebrates 45th anniversary

Tjefferson@vagazette.com
Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que celebrates 45th anniversary

Fresh food, natural barbecue sauce and menu expansion is how Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que has been able to turn $40 into 45 years.

"It's a Virginia tradition," owner, Jay Pierce said. "The loyalty and following we have has been tremendous."

With just $40 at its disposal, Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que first opened its doors on Oct. 15, 1971, after Pierce's parents moved from California.

"My parents wanted to move to the east coast to be near my grandparents," Pierce said. "(My dad) had always been interested in the restaurant business."

Pierce's father was able to turn $40 into $80 after the first day of business and son, Jay, has picked up where his dad left off.

Over the years, Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que has been featured on the Travel Channel and served famous politicians like George Bush, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

Pierce not only recalls the big names who have eaten at the restaurant but is also grateful for the loyal customers, who come day after day.

"I love to see their faces, their support is what has kept us in business," Pierce said.

The ability to adapt as more chain restaurants moved into the Williamsburg area is how Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que has been able to stay in business.

"We try to stay relevant with what's going on," Pierce, said. "Now we have a gluten-free menu and we've expanded our menu to offer so many things. We offer pork and whole chickens on the pit with no antibiotics."

Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que is a testament to the power of a strong family owned business.

"Having any restaurant in the community is very important," Seth Peterson, director of communications at the Virginia Restaurant Lodging and Travel Association said. "To have a restaurant in a community for any length of time let alone 45 years is great."

Not only is the menu current, but the ingredients are local and fresh.

"We don't open a can and pour it out. Everything we make is from scratch," Pierce said.

Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que will expand its menu during the holidays, selling whole turkeys as well as spiral cut ham.

Pierce said they will offer dinner specials throughout October and will sell anniversary memorabilia to commemorate the 45-year run.

The restaurant has enjoyed sustained success but it will come to an end after Jay Pierce steps down whenever that may be.

"I am the end of the chain," Pierce said. "No one else was really interested (in running the restaurant)."

Pierce knows the restaurant won't be around forever or be passed down to another generation but he comes to work everyday just like he's done for the last 45 years.

"I'm a very hands-on guy and I love the employees I work with," Pierce said.

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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