WEST OCEAN CITY — As it turned out, Carl Glenn didn’t have to have Denise Venable killed, which was probably best for all involved.
Glenn had developed the recipe that had made Smoker’s BBQ Pit famous and, like most experienced cooks with their own way of doing things, sometimes joked about having to kill anyone who learned it.
Venable isn’t only an exception because she purchased the business with her sister, Jennifer McCabe, she’s an exception because of her relationship with the Glenns, which extends back to when she had worked with Jeannie Glenn at Crab Alley.
Venable owned and ran Crab Alley for 20 years. She was still involved with the restaurant when Jeannie told her she was leaving her position there in order to help her husband launch Smoker’s BBQ Pit.
Their relationship remained solid afterwards and Venable, even after moving on to other endeavors herself, would frequently come by Smoker’s BBQ Pit to dine or chat or both.
The restaurant wasn’t quite “on the market” really when Venable made an offer on it. In fact, although the Glenns had discussed packing it in, the actual deal came when Jeannie and Venable were talking about the hours and commitment it takes to operate a restaurant.
One thing lead to another and before too long, Venable, who also owned and ran the Painted Pony Saloon in Frontiertown, was preparing to open her third restaurant in as many decades.
She, McCabe and Carey Farlow, Venable’s nephew and an integral part of the staff, were initiated into Glenn’s spicing and smoking secrets. It also didn’t hurt that much of the experienced staff stayed on to keep the operation running seamlessly.
“My sister said we’re like the dog in the Bush’s Baked Beans commercial,” Venable said.
While the comparison is amusing it isn’t quite accurate. The best thing a person can do with esoteric knowledge is to expand on it rather than to simply repeat it. So while Smoker’s BBQ Pit still makes all of the favorite dishes the restaurant has been known for over the years, the new owners also applied their acquired knowledge to other ways of preparing smoked delicacies.
For example, outside of the various Texas and North Carolina-style smoked and barbecued meats, smoked fish has also been a Smoker’s BBQ Pit specialty not to be missed.
Certainly, their salmon is beyond reproach, but the smoked tuna sandwiches are beyond compare. Nothing about any of this has changed, but this season they’ve added smoked shrimp salad — certain to become one of the new favorites — to the menu.
Similarly, they’ve begun expanding to incorporate smoked products into already-guarded recipes of their own and even inventing new ones. Recently Smoker’s BBQ Pit featured steakhouse chowder as well as the cream of crab soup Venable has served as a specialty for much of her career.
They’ve also expanded their menu to include more smoked-to-order whole chickens. Smokers also still has its breakfast sandwich special that’s been so popular with people on weekend excursion.
Venable said Smoker’s BBQ Pit will also do more catering, making their services available for both large and small events.
One of the most promising things about the transition is Venable said she expects to keep the restaurant open deeper into the fall, possibly even early winter. It’s all a function of her and her staffs’s excitement at the local response they’ve already received.
“It’s kind of nice to be able to get back into it,” she said.