Early October is the perfect time to squeeze the last remaining days of deck time into the weekend. So, I headed out to the grand opening of the BBQ Pit Lounge at Alexander Family Restaurant for the launch of their new deck and underground bar room. On such a nice night, the deck was packed with people celebrating the eatery’s foray into dinner service.
When new owner Mani Sharma took over the business, which has a regular following for breakfast and lunch, he decided to capitalize on the restaurant’s well-traveled location, and open for dinner. And he wanted to offer something unique. Inspired by popular cooking shows on TV, he decided on barbecue and bought a custom smoker from Meadow Creek, the area’s premiere maker of barbecue equipment.
“Barbecue is everywhere,” says Sharma. “Each location known for their barbecue—Texas, Memphis, North Carolina—all have their own unique flavor. I wanted to bring some of that to York.”
I ordered a Yuengling Black & Tan – which pairs well with any smoked meats – and my wife opted for a glass of Malbec. Both of us got ready to get our barbecue grub on. Off the side of the deck, the pig was still resting in the smoker after 10 hours of slow cooking. We decided to order from the special grand opening menu. I went for the hickory-smoked pulled pork mac and cheese bowl. My wife wanted to taste as much as possible and went for the sampler of ribs, pulled pork, chicken, and brisket.
<<<Hungry for more BBQ stories? Check out our interview with pitmaster Tuffy Stone here. >>>
While we waited for our food we enjoyed the selection of classic rock covers from an acoustic singer perched on the walkway overlooking the new deck. Entertainment is something Sharma will have regularly—both inside and out.
When the weather gets too cold for the deck he’ll move acts into the BBQ Pit Lounge. The downstairs bar itself is a work in progress – an eclectic mix of Mediterranean décor and a cavernous music room. Sharma is working on establishing a cocktail program with specialty mixed drinks, and currently carries a selection of premium spirits, which the bartenders pour generously. The small bar is surrounded by over-cushioned, leather lounge chairs, great for relaxing.
Back on the deck, our food arrived. The one thing I knew I was definitely ordering after looking at the Alexander Family Restaurant menu online was the beer batter dipped bacon. Served as a basket item with fries and chipotle ranch sauce, the entrée – featuring two strips of bacon – should be treated as an appetizer and is priced accordingly at $4.95. In fact, all the menu prices are well within reason, making the BBQ Pit Lounge and deck a perfect place to toss back a few cold beers.
As the night went on I repeatedly saw Sharma making his way from table to table. He’s a really likable guy with a flair for making the customer feel special—something that has rubbed off on the staff, too. Between sets, the crowd gave Sharma a cheer and a healthy ovation for his grand opening. And I joined in.
• Alexander Family Restaurant and BBQ Pit Lounge
• 840 Carlisle Road, York