Alpha Pitt Smokers in Yorktown is a multifaceted business that has been growing at a very fast rate. The catering company that began in 2016 took off, quickly reaching a point where it was catering 60 weddings a year. Without impeding that growth, owner Jason Martocci and his team have also established a restaurant, beginning with take-out that has since grown into a dine-in service, with a unique space to accommodate more than 40 guests.
Setting Alpha Pitt Smokers apart from other catering companies is its elaborate setup. Rather than resembling a typical food truck, which has become a common sight at catered events, Martocci has turned the cooking apparatus itself into an attraction. “It’s a walk-around rig, set up with TVs and surround sound,” he says, adding that this helps Alpha Pitt Smokers to “provide a bit more of the tailgating experience,” He describes his setup as “kind of like a party box,” complete with a satellite dish, a cabinet smoker and a large four-foot by five-foot grill that can use both wood and propane.
In addition to the TVs and the excitement of watching barbeque masters at work, guests on rainy days cluster around the Alpha Pitt rig for the overhead shelter it provides, with roofing on all four sides; and on hot days, Martocci and crew keep fans running so that onlooking guests can keep cool while they hang out around the pit.
“It’s designed by us and built by a North Carolina company,” says C. J. Dreyfuss, assistant manager of Alpha Pitt Smokers, who helped Martocci to create the rig. He is proud of their work, as well as the local craftsmanship that they sourced for the project, adding that “we also had local companies do the surround sound and lighting.”
The restaurant space is unique among the competition. Having outgrown Alpha Pitt’s previous commercial kitchen space, Martocci found a new space that was also suitable for take-out service, and the restaurant was born. In 2019, he expanded the space, adding a large bar and tables. Inspired by the success of his catering endeavor, Martocci says of his restaurant, “We took an outdoor setting and brought it indoors.” The ability to fill that space has obviously been affected by COVID, but after some adjustments, Alpha Pitt has been able to maintain seating for about 20 guests in the restaurant.
Alpha Pitt keeps customers and clients coming back for more of its food. Speaking about his style of barbeque, Martocci describes his approach to smoky flavor as “in the middle of the road,” explaining that while some people try to overload their food with smoke, he and his crew use applewood smoke because “it is very light in its nature.”
Martocci incorporates family tradition into his restaurant as well. “We even have specialty items like lumpia,” he says. Lumpia is a Filipino dish, similar to spring rolls, that Martocci learned to make from his Filipino grandmother. For Alpha Pitt’s menu, Martocci melds the traditional lumpia recipe and style with smoked meats and BBQ sauce to provide truly unique fare for his diners.
Both Martocci and Dreyfuss were college athletes. Martocci played football as part of the first class of walk-ons at Christopher Newport University, and Dreyfuss was a collegiate golfer. Martocci’s love of football and tailgating was a major factor driving him to create his business. However, as the owner of this multi-faceted and growing enterprise, in addition to being a father to two young children (8 months and 3 years), being constantly occupied with work and family duties leaves time for little else. “I haven’t even been able to watch any football this year,” Martocci says with a grin. Dreyfuss, on the other hand, is a recent college graduate with no children of his own, and though he is heavily involved in the operation of Alpha Pitt Smokers, he still manages to carve out some time for interests like fishing and golf.
Looking to the future, Martocci has big plans to create a one-stop shop. He would like to eventually acquire his own event venue so that his clients can come to him to have their entire event or wedding planned and executed in one place by one company.
TO THE POINT:
Alpha Pitt Smokers
Address: 2960 Hampton Hwy., Ste. A, Yorktown, VA 23693
Contact: Jason Martocci, owner
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