Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Menu for Success: Washington, Pa., Restaurateur in Right Place at Right Time When Drillers Arrived

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Menu for Success: Washington, Pa., Restaurateur in Right Place at Right Time When Drillers Arrived

Article excerpt

He has been dubbed the "barbecue king of the oilfields." And his territory is increasing at every turn.

Frank Puskarich can't help but marvel at how his Hog father's barbecue restaurant has grown since he opened it on Jefferson Avenue in Washington, Pa., in 2007. Back then, "Marcellus Shale" wasn't in his vocabulary.

But he and his wife, Kathy, opened the restaurant at about the same time oil companies headed north from the Lone Star State to extract natural gas in southwestern Pennsylvania.

It was a match made in hog heaven.

"It's been a real fit," said Mr. Puskarich, 59. "The folks that originally came in this market were Texans, these southern boys. They were looking for barbecue, and I fell right into it."

Hog father's has expanded to five locations, including an express restaurant in natural gas driller Range Resources' regional headquarters at Southpointe. The restaurant group pulled in $2.6 million in revenue in 2013 and could reach $3 million this year.

Range also has contracted Hog father's to operate two concession trailers at a pair of its frack sites, serving meals at noon and midnight, seven days a week. The relationship dates back about six years, when one of Range's completion managers, Shawn Hodges, was looking for someone to feed third-party frack crews that work for the company.

"We're in a competitive business and eating well is an added perk and helps to ensure that people want to work at a Range location," John Applegath, senior vice president of the Southern Marcellus Shale Division, said in an email.

The company heard about Mr. Puskarich's restaurant through word of mouth. Within three months of opening the Jefferson Avenue location, Hog father's had a catering job for Halliburton frack crews. Later, the restaurant served crews for Frac Tech before Range hired it directly.

Though the restaurant was founded as a barbecue joint, the menu has expanded, especially on the catering side. Mr. Puskarich now offers more than 20 entrees, from country fried steak to chicken parmesan to meatloaf.

"Narrowing Frank and Kathy's food down to just barbecue is a disservice, because they do a great job with anything that they prepare," Mr. …

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