By Sarah Seeley
Feb. 6, 2014
Paul Lawson stared at the phone number in the window of the vacant building in the Bunbury Mall where the Stratford Greco once stood.
He recently sold his restaurant Brit’s Fish and Chips on University Avenue and wanted a new challenge.
Lawson remembered his trips to Carolina and Texas and his excursions to various BBQ restaurants.
He looked at the empty building again.
“Man, this is something that needs to be done in P.E.I.”
Today, Lawson’s dream has become a reality. Pit Stop recently opened in January and people flock there to get a taste of their slow-cooked meat.
Lawson has plenty of experience in the restaurant business. He was born in England and attended three years of culinary school in Aberdeen, Scotland before moving to Edmonton.
He owned several restaurants in Edmonton, including a Brit’s Fish and Chips. But Lawson said he wanted a change of scenery.
“I missed the ocean.”
He moved to P.E.I., an area he was familiar with.
“What a great place to raise a family.”
Lawson opened a Brit’s Fish and Chips in Charlottetown and ran it for around seven years before he sold it.
Pit Stop is his ninth eating establishment.
Lawson contacted the owner of the empty building and explained his credentials, then started working on the recipes for the menu. He bought a Texas smoker from the U.S. and was trained in the art of smoking meat.
He experimented with cooking ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket and a signature BBQ sauce before adding them to the menu.
“Everyone loves meat.”
He said he made a smooth transition into the BBQ business.
“Business is the same. You make what people want and sell it.”
Lawson planned to serve pizza to compensate for the loss of Greco.
“I tried different recipes until I found the one I liked.”
He also wanted to add a dish he was familiar with.
“Fish and chips were a no-brainer.”
Lawson named his restaurant Pit Stop because the name was already associated with speed and the word ‘pit’ is also used in many popular BBQ restaurants. He wanted his customers to know he had quick service.
“We wanted the idea of speed.”
Riki Sulis is one of many happy Pit Stop customers. She ate at the restaurant on several occasions and each time she is more impressed.
“I liked that they put the coleslaw in the pulled pork sandwich and the meat is very tender.”
Sulis praised the service at the Pit Stop. She said Lawson came out to her in the middle of a busy supper rush to ask her if she liked the food.
“He was very conscientious.”
She also said the Island needed a BBQ place.
“I think it filled a niche in P.E.I. It’s a great little spot.”
Sulis has already recommended Pit Stop to many people.
“I hope it sticks around.”