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Former Buckeyes standouts set to open third BBQ spot in Clintonville

Former Buckeyes standouts set to open third BBQ spot in Clintonville

Jack McLaughlin

After four years and two other successful locations, a third Pit BBQ Grille is set to open at noon on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 4219 N. High St. 

The outfit has locations at 3545 Cleveland Ave. (temporarily closed) and 1542 Parsons Ave., as well as a food truck. Another storefront is coming to the North Market later this year. 

The Pit BBQ Grille and Catering is one of the hottest barbeque spots in the city, serving up traditional Cleveland BBQ with a dash of New Orleans for good measure. What’s more, two of the eatery’s four owners—Bryant Browning and Chimdi Chekwa—are former Buckeyes football standouts, Chekwa at cornerback and Browning at guard. Both players even spent a handful of years playing in the NFL.

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Their passion now: really good barbeque. In 2016, after Browning and Chekwa stepped down from professional football, the pair opened The Pitt BBQ Grille alongside the spot’s other two co-owners, longtime friends Mike Johnson and D’Andre Martin.

“We’ve all been friends for 10-plus years, and we always wanted to do business together, so after college and everything we decided: this was it,” Martin said.

Martin said Columbus diners have emphatically supported the business. 

“It feels amazing to watch people enjoy food that has been inspired from all of our families’ kitchens. To bring this dream to a reality is something we could have never imagined,” he said.

The Pit BBQ Grille represents food from each of its four founders’ personal histories, Martin said. 

 “Three of us [Browning, Johnson, and Martin] are from Cleveland and grew up with a BBQ place on every corner, so we wanted to bring that Cleveland style BBQ to Columbus,” he said. 

And as the fourth founding member, Chimdi Chekwa, hails from Florida and New Orleans, dishes at The Pit also contain their own Louisiana flair.

One of the restaurant’s signature items—and a dish that should make it to the top of your must-try list—is a Cleveland staple, and a decked-out version of something Browning, Johnson, and Martin all grew up eating: the Polish Boy. This one starts with an all-beef Polish sausage, adding fresh-cut fries, coleslaw, and their signature PIT sauce. Also featured is the Polish Girl, which takes the Polish Boy and adds your choice of chicken, pulled pork, or brisket. 

And no order at the hot new BBQ spot is complete without a side of PIT Fries, which are hand-cut and topped with generous amounts of chicken, pulled pork, or brisket; cheddar cheese; and PIT sauce.

And if it’s more traditional barbeque you’re after, The Pitt BBQ Grille has you covered as well. The eatery offers ribs and wings in addition to the trio of meats featured on their signature items. A hefty list of sides—such as candied yams, mac & cheese, and more—can be purchased a la carte or in a number of combo meals.

Reserve The Pit BBQ Grille food truck and check out their full menu here

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