Fifteen minutes before the much-awaited opening of the Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant on Tuesday, a line formed outside the entrance on Mt. Vernon Avenue.
When the doors opened at 5 p.m., the line moved to the counter, where patrons ordered their food cafeteria style before finding their seats.
The line remained for several of hours until about 8:30 p.m. when all the meat prepared for the evening had been ordered and promptly devoured.
“As expected, the Del Ray Community came out in force as they have from Day 1. We’re very appreciative of that,” said co-owner “Mango” Mike Anderson.
With familiar neighborhood faces such as Stu Ellis behind the bar and chef Will Artley in the kitchen, the opening night of Pork Barrel BBQ was a resounding success.
The restaurant reportedly served 800 customers on its first night. Staff may have expected as few as 200.
As with any new restaurant, there were a few kinks. Anderson had to photocopy a stack of paper menus at the nearby UPS Store after discovering the electronic display board wasn’t working.
Still, people seemed happy the place was finally open for business.
Wayne Hulehan snuck in a little early so he could buy the first beer from the bar. Mayor Bill Euille reportedly swung by a little later in the evening after the meat was gone.
Julie and Rich Forsht, along with their son Anthony, were the first customers to order from the counter. They sat at the large community table near the entrance.
“It was excellent,” Julie Forsht said. “The pulled pork was awesome. … We’d been waiting and waiting, but we never lost faith [that this place would open].”
Co-owner Heath Hall said there was still work to be done. The restaurant had to serve its first lunch shift.
And then there are still two more restaurants in the complex the team has to prepare. Hall believed Chop Chop, a fast-casual Asian-fusion spot, would be the next to open, followed by a sushi bar called Dragon.
“But who knows?” he said, smiling.
Did you go to Pork Barrel on Tuesday night? What did you eat? Tell us in the comments section.