If you go
LOCATION: 9 N. Hill St., Stewartstown
CUISINE: Smoked meats, burgers, and steamed crabs and shrimp.
KIM'S PICK: Pulled pork drizzled with barbecue sauce (8-ounce for $7.49) and fresh-cut fries ($2.50).
PARKING: Adjacent to the building.
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday.
PRICE RANGE: Side dishes, such as homemade potato salad, macaroni salad, macaroni and cheese and corn on the cob for $1.49; a dozen steamed crab for $45.
ACCEPTS: Cash and credit.
KID'S MENU: Yes
DETAILS: Call 717-993-2003.
Bob Skalski has had quite a year.
He quit his job, opened a restaurant and watched his only child leave home for an adventure that will take him to the other side of the world.
Actually, his son, Kevin, is where Skalski's story begins.
Several years ago, Kevin's Boy Scout troop hired a guy to smoke and sell pit beef as a fund-raiser for the troop. It gave Skalski, of Fawn Grove, the idea that he could help his own cause, the Stewartstown Lions Club, the same way, except he would be the cook. So, Skalski built himself a smoker and began fund-raisers for local organizations. A catering business and a second home-built smoker followed, as Skalski and his wife, Denise, booked weddings and family reunions in their free time.
"People kept encouraging us: When are you going to become permanent?" Skalski said.
Last year, Skalski found the location — a sizeable building used as a garage — and the work began to renovate the place, buy the equipment, and hire employees and a chef. What he created is a quaint little restaurant, Bob's Pit and BBQ Barn, with an impressive menu of southern York County favorites delivered in a rustic wood interior, decorated with vintage signs.
My husband, Mike, and I wander in on a beautiful, sunny Saturday evening and order at the counter. We bypass the pit ham and turkey sandwiches for Bob's most popular items — an 8-ounce pit beef sandwich, fresh-cut French fries and onion rings for Mike; an 8-ounce pulled pork sandwich with corn pudding for me; and a chocolate milkshake to share. The menu has been largely influenced by chef Todd Cathell of Stewartstown. Besides the smoked meats, Bob's has burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, baby back ribs, wings, crab cakes, coconut shrimp and beer-battered cod. For crab lovers, a dozen steamed are $45 and a bushel is $297. Steamed shrimp is $15.99 per pound.
Several umbrella-covered picnic tables line the front of the building and more sit closer to the 500-gallon smoker near the back of the building. We find a spot in front, as customers truck in and out of the eatery, many taking their pickup orders home.
The milkshake, my husband's version of an appetizer, arrives first, thick and refreshing on a hot day.
A few minutes later, a server carries out a tray with the sandwiches and sides. The sandwiches are naked, so we head inside to drench them in the sweet barbecue sauce at the condiment stand. Meat can be ordered in 6- or 8-ounce portions. The heaping 8-ounce portions we ordered are tender and juicy, infused with the smoke flavor from the charcoal and wood in the smoker.
The fresh-cut fries, salted and seasoned, hot from the fryer, are almost as good as the sandwiches, The onion rings, one of the only items not made on site, actually look and taste fresh. I nibble both the rings and fries, deciding one of these will be my side on the next visit. The sandwich — after all the side dishes — is a little too much for me, and Mike polishes off the remainder.
Key lime, apple, pumpkin and cherry pie are homemade desserts at Bob's, but we're too stuffed to try any of it.
We'll try it when we come back.
Skalski's work this year has paid off, as his eatery is already bulging out of his space, he said.
His most important work, raising son Kevin, had its moment this year, too. Several years ago, Kevin achieved his Eagle Scout award at the young age of 14. Earlier this year, Kevin told his dad that all the pushing and prodding had made a difference in his life. He was working two jobs, stopping by the new BBQ barn when he could, but he had made a life-changing decision.
Kevin made a commitment to the Air Force and will ship off to South Korea later this year.
As he left for training camp a few months ago, his dad offered him the pearls of wisdom that withstand time and space: Pay attention. Be alert. Study hard. Think before you act. Be a leader, not a follower.
Principles that guide both a businessman and his only son.