Here in America we love our barbecue, and if you travel a lot you have probably noticed how different parts of the country have their special take on barbecued meats. The East Baltimore area along Pulaski Highway since the 1970s has been known for its pit beef, basically a roast beef sandwich with a little charcoal and smoky flavor and people come from all over to experience the tender, flavorful sandwich.
One restaurant in particular, Chaps Pit Beef, exemplifies the “Baltimore Style BBQ” and is one of the pioneers of modern day pit beef cuisine. With locations in Baltimore on Pulaski Highway and in Aberdeen on Beards Hill Road, they have created a strong following of patrons and restaurant critics alike.
Chaps Pit Beef is the brainchild of Gus Glava who owned a Southwest-themed night club on Pulaski Highway and his daughter and son-in-law. Back in May of 1987, Glava built the original Chaps Pit Beef on the grounds of his nightclub as a wedding gift for his daughter Donna and son-in-law Bob Creager who was working in a steel mill at the time.
Glava had already been serving pit beef at his bar, Gus’ Manor Inn which is located in Dundalk, Maryland and knew his new son-in-law loved to cook so thought it would be a great career transition for Creager.
The original stand was basically a 12 x 15 shack that shared the food license and even electricity with the nightclub. It was the most basic setup that could be with no restroom and only enough room to prep and cook the food. Bob would cook and Donna would manage the staff and eventually their business grew to not only allow for an expansion of their original shack, but also the addition of the new restaurant in Aberdeen.
Chaps “Baltimore Style BBQ” method is what made their original pit beef sandwich so famous. To make a Classic Pit Beef sandwich, Bob uses a bottom round roast flat cut from the hind quarters which are a tougher, but more flavorful cut. He trims the gristle and silver off the meat and then applies a dry rub of different herbs and spices like paprika, salt and peopper, thyme and onion powder. He then lets it sit over night and in the morning he puts it on an open pit of burning hardwood charcoal that gets to gets to about 400 to 500 degrees.
Once the beef has a nice crust on the outside and is tender on the inside, he slices it in ribbons and puts it back on the pit so he can cook to order for each of his customers. He always make sure to spread the meat around to add some char and flavor to it. Next he shaves the meat and piles it high on a kaiser roll and adds whatever fixings the customer wants, including Chaps’ special tiger sauce which is a mixture of mayonnaise and extra hot horseradish. Your food is always cooked to order.
While they started with just selling the Pit Beef Sandwhich now they throw five or six different meats on the open pit every day so they can offer meat lovers different sandwich combinations.
Their specialities include “The Richwich,” a pit beef, corned beef, turkey and sausage, and “The Big John,” which is chock full of pit beef, corned beef, turkey, ham and sausage. Other favorites are “The Bull Dog,” a pit beef, sausage and American cheese sandwich and the “52” Chaps special which combines corned beef, ham and pit beef with American cheese. Don’t worry they also offer fresh cod sandwiches and barbecue basics like hot dogs and burgers. In addition, they prepare homemade sides like mac and cheese, Cole slaw and green beans and stewed tomatoes.
Chaps’ brand has been built on always providing the highest quality ingredients and outstanding customer service and now they are franchising their business to other meat lovers who want to get in on the rising popularity of barbecue restaurants.
Learn more about franchising opportunities available with Chaps Pit Beef here.