A One-Time Hobby Has Grown Into A WOC Tradition
OCEAN CITY -What started out as a hobby has transformed into a phenomenon of sorts in the resort area, with customers lining up from April through September to get a taste of their favorite home cooked item at Smoker's BBQ Pit.
Husband and wife Carl and Jeannie Glenn opened Smoker's BBQ Pit in West Ocean City in 1996, shortly after Carl retired.
'It started out as a retirement hobby,' said Carl this week.
The business started small, with operations out of a small trailer, Thursday through Sunday.
'After the first year, we realized it would be a round-the-clock operation,' said Carl.
As the business grew and the customer base quickly expanded, it became apparent that a bigger establishment was desperately needed.
'We were completely maxed out,' remembers Carl.
'There wasn't enough room, there were lines constantly,' added Jeannie.
To keep up with the customer demand, the pair opted to rebuild, adding a brand new building, with screened in outside seating. Despite efforts to expand however, the current building remains too small.
'This building here is maxed out, we should have doubled it,' said Carl.
The Glenn's admitted that they have often thought of expanding again or opening a second location, but dreams of permanent retirement and an effort to maintain top quality service and food hinder them from doing so.
'We thought about opening another, but we like to keep our quality the best. If we're not here, the quality goes down,' explained Jeannie.
In order to ensure top quality service and food, the two make sure at least one, if not both, of them are always on site.
'We both work about 100 hours a week. There are no days off from April through September,' said Carl.
In the off-season, the couple can be found relaxing in their second home in Florida, with Carl dedicating his time to fishing and Jeannie participating in a wide array of volunteer work.
'We keep saying one more year•€¦' said Carl, noting that •€˜one more year' inevitably turns into three or four.
Carl and Jeannie attribute the business' success to the fresh, home cooked menu items that keep customers coming back for more.
Lunchtime generally sees BBQ sandwiches or the smoked tuna as the most popular items, with ribs as the top seller for the dinnertime crowd.
The homemade sides, which range from cole slaw to mashed potatoes, are made fresh, several times a day. Carl noted that they have often tried to downsize on the selection of sides, but can never pick a side to eliminate.
'We have a lot of customers that come in here just to get the sides,' he said.
'Ninety-eight percent of what we have is homemade, right down to the BBQ sauce,' said Jeannie.
Jeannie also considers their slow-cooked ribs to be the best around.
'We slow cook our ribs, with the sauce on the side, that way you're getting the whole flavor,' she said.
Smoker's offers food to eat on site or to take to go. With long lines a common occurrence, Jeannie suggests calling ahead, to avoid waiting in line.
Catering is also offered at Smoker's. While they don't offer on-site catering, orders can be placed and picked up for catered events.
'They'll call in the order, we'll fix it and they'll come pick it up,' explained Jeannie.
With the Glenn's spending the winter months relaxing in Florida, Smoker's is only open April through September.
'We're busy all summer, we're busy as soon as we open the doors,' said Carl.
Like most area businesses, the week of the Fourth of July and the White Marlin Open bring the biggest crowds.
'White Marlin Open week is the best. We set new records every year and this year was no exception,' said Carl.
The last week of the season is also a banner week for Smoker's, as customers line up to get their last fix for the year.
'We're as busy that week as we are the week of the Fourth of July,' said Carl.
Typically when spring rolls around, loyal Smoker's customers get anxious to get a taste of the smoked tuna, BBQ sandwich or ribs. Although they are still in Florida, the Glenn's have their number posted on the sign in late March for those interested in a job for the season, however many of the calls are often unrelated to job interest. 'We've gotten calls in Florida from our customers, wondering when we're going to open up,' said Jeannie.
Jeannie and Carl highlighted the loyal customer base that have supported them over the years, noting the number of customers that tell their friends and family who then tell their friends and family and so on.
'We've got a lot of repeat customers, we have a really good following,' said Jeannie. 'If you've never been here before, if you try us, you'll definitely come back.'