Pitt Eats launches new barbecue-themed food truck


Jon Moss | Editor-in-Chief

Pitt’s new Smokeland BBQ food truck at a launch event in front of the William Pitt Union on Friday afternoon.

By Maria Scanga, Staff Writer

Oakland is about to get a lot smokier this fall semester.

Pitt students’ meal options have recently expanded to include a brand new food truck, Smokeland BBQ, boasting freshly made and locally sourced barbecue.

The idea began when Pitt obtained an 18-foot smoker last year for the former Hub at Posvar dining location. With the need to de-densify campus dining locations simmering down, Pitt Eats wanted to find a way to make the smoker part of Pitt dining.

Pitt Eats marketing director Kathryn Lavelle said the idea of a barbecue truck was the next step to grow the brand they had already created with Smokeland BBQ at the Hub.

“That’s when the whole food truck idea started coming into play because this used to be the Panther Grille,” Lavelle said.

Pitt’s new Smokeland BBQ food truck at a launch event in front of the William Pitt Union on Friday afternoon. (Jon Moss | Editor-in-Chief)

Students might remember the Panther Grille food truck from the 2019-20 academic year. Smokeland BBQ uses the same truck, now revamped with a completely different flavor, and locally sourced products.

Branded as “Pittsburgh-style BBQ,” the menu options, as well as the sauce options, are a culmination of many different Pittsburgh plates. Lavelle said the inspiration for the Smokeland BBQ flavors came from many different Pittsburgh influences.

“[The chefs] wanted to take some of the aspects of Pittsburgh and the different cultural diversity and everything you kind of 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 FDA approved and bottled. They are now available for retail sale in bottles.

The food truck curators have also been working with different brands and even a ranch to create the Pittsburgh-style flavor only found in Smokeland BBQ. The ranch, Jubilee Hilltop Ranch, is located about two hours southeast of Oakland in Osterburg, Pa.

Katelyn Fisher, the business services director for Pitt athletics, attended Smokeland BBQ’s launch on Friday and was able to try it out for herself. Fisher said she got a full platter that included a protein, hot sides and a cold side. 

“I got the pulled pork with chicken, potato salad, chips, and it came with hot sides like baked beans and green beans. It’s a lot of food,” Fisher said. “It has that classic barbecue flavor people like.”

With an expansive menu featuring different proteins and several hot and cold sides, the food truck offers a variety of different flavors and diet options. 

Dining dollars and meal swipes, as well as credit cards, can be used at the truck, but no cash is accepted. As the fall semester gets closer, Lavelle said she hopes more students will consider trying this Pittsburgh BBQ experience. 

“It’s a really great opportunity to bring in the local vendors and really keep it to Pittsburgh,” Lavelle said.