Oakland is getting a lot smokier this fall semester.
The catering options for the Pitt students have recently been expanded to include a brand new food truck. Smokeland BBQ, with freshly prepared grill from the region.
The idea started when Pitt sourced a 6-foot smoker for the former Hub at Posvar restaurant last year. As the need to detackify campus eateries was reducing, Pitt Eats wanted to find a way to make smokers part of Pitt’s dining.
Kathryn Lavelle, Pitt Eats director of marketing, said the idea of a barbecue truck was the next step in building the brand they had already created with Smokeland BBQ at the hub.
“This is where the idea of the food truck came into play, because that used to be the Panther Grille,” says Lavelle.
Pitt’s new Smokeland BBQ Food Truck at a launch event outside the William Pitt Union on Friday afternoon. (Jon Moss | Editor-in-Chief)
Students could remember the Panther Grille food truck from the academic year 2019/20. Smokeland BBQ uses the same truck, now with a completely different flavor and locally sourced produce.
The menu options known as “Pittsburgh-Style BBQ” as well as the sauce options are a highlight of many different Pittsburgh dishes. Lavelle said the inspiration for the Smokeland BBQ flavors came from many different Pittsburgh influences.
“[The chefs] I wanted to take in some of the aspects of Pittsburgh and the diverse cultural diversity and everything you see here and create a little style, ”Lavelle said.
Working with several Pittsburgh-based companies such as Pittsburgh Pickle Company, Smokeland BBQ was able to get their sauces approved and bottled by the FDA. They are now available at retail outlets in bottles.
The food truck curators have also worked with various brands and even a ranch to create the Pittsburgh style only found in Smokeland BBQ. The ranch, Jubilee Hilltop Ranch, is located about two hours southeast of Oakland in Osterburg, Pennsylvania.
Katelyn Fisher, Business Services Director of Pitt Athletics, attended the Smokeland BBQ launch on Friday and had the chance to try it out for herself. Fisher said she got a full platter that had a protein, hot sides, and a cold side.
“I got the pulled pork with chicken, potato salad, french fries and it came with spicy side dishes like baked beans and green beans. It’s a lot of food, ”said Fisher. “It has the classic grill taste that people like.”
With an extensive menu of different proteins and several hot and cold sides, the food truck offers a variety of different flavors and diet options.
Food dollars and spends and credit cards can be used on the truck, but cash is not accepted. As the fall semester approaches, Lavelle hopes more students will consider this Pittsburgh BBQ experience.
“It’s a really great opportunity to get the local vendors in and really keep them in Pittsburgh,” said Lavelle.