Oakland is about to get a lot smokier this fall semester.
Pitt student food options have recently expanded to include a new food truck, smoked barbecue, with freshly made and locally sourced barbecue.
The idea started when Pitt purchased an 18-foot smoker last year for the former Hub at Posvar restaurant. With the need to reduce the density of eating places on campus, Pitt Eats wanted to find a way to make the smoker a part of Pitt’s food.
Pitt Eats chief marketing officer Kathryn Lavelle said the barbecue truck idea was the next step in growing the brand they had already created with Smokeland BBQ at the Hub.
“That’s when the food truck idea started to come into play because it used to be the Panther Grille,” Lavelle said.
Students can remember the panther grille food truck of the 2019-20 academic year. Smokeland BBQ uses the same truck, now revamped with a completely different flavor and locally sourced produce.
Billed as “Pittsburgh-style barbecue,” the menu options, as well as the sauce options, are the culmination 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 some of the aspects of Pittsburgh and the different cultural diversity and everything that you see here and create a little bit of style,” Lavelle said.
Working with several Pittsburgh-based companies, such as Pittsburgh Pickle Company, Smokeland BBQ managed to get their sauces approved and bottled by the FDA. They are now available for retail sale in bottles.
Food truck curators have also been working with different brands and even a ranch to create the Pittsburgh-style flavor only found at Smokeland BBQ. The ranch, Jubilee Hilltop Ranch, is located about two hours southeast of Oakland in Osterburg, Pennsylvania.
Katelyn Fisher, Pitt’s director of athletic business services, attended the launch of Smokeland BBQ on Friday and was able to try it out for herself. Fisher said he got a full plate that included a protein, hot sides and a cold side.
“I got pulled pork with chicken, potato salad, fries, and it came with spicy sides like baked beans and green beans. It’s a lot of food,” Fisher said. “It has that classic barbecue flavor that people like.”
With an extensive menu that includes different proteins and various hot and cold side dishes, the food truck offers a variety of different flavors and diet options.
Dining dollars and dining passes, as well as credit cards, can be used on the bus, but cash is not accepted. As the fall semester approaches, Lavelle said she hopes more students will consider trying out this BBQ experience in Pittsburgh.
“It’s a great opportunity to attract local vendors and keep them in Pittsburgh,” Lavelle said.