The mystery of the perfect brisket was solved in smoke.
The secret, says Benjamin Hall, GM of Epic Smokehouse in Arlington, VA is an overnight smoking technique which renders brisket and other proteins tender, succulent and full of flavor.
“We smoke about 90 percent of our meats overnight for about 12 hours over hickory and applewood,” says Hall, proprietor of a 10-year-old establishment which caters to Pentagon staff, guests of major hotel enterprises, and residents of the rapidly developing Pentagon City region of Virginia. “The meat cooks at precisely 210 degrees in the heat of the smoke without ever touching the flame.”
The results, described by guests of the 10-year-old mainstay, put brisket as the most popular dish served up in an atmospheric concept found somewhere between BBQ joint and fine dining establishment.
In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand blog Recipe for Success, Benjamin Hall describes the vibe, customer acquisition, and future prospects of Epic Smokehouse.
Boxerbrand: Who is your customer, and how do you attract them?
Hall: We get a plethora of different people coming through our doors. A large percentage come from the major hotels near us, including the Ritz Carlton, Hyatt Regency, Doubletree and Marriott. Roughly 40 percent of our clientele are visiting Washington, D.C. for a conference, or working contract positions for the Pentagon.
In addition, we have regulars who’ve been with us for years. Our area has completely changed since our owner Joon Yang opened the restaurant, and our population of residents has boomed. We now have 16,000 people within walking distance of our front doors, potential customers who live in high rise developments or work in our burgeoning commercial areas.
Boxerbrand: Do Yelp reviews or other social media platforms drive foot traffic?
Hall: Surprisingly, Yelp and other platforms don’t really factor into our success. I think our consistency in our brand, our service and menu has given us a strong reputation among all the major hotels in our area. And rather than positive Yelp reviews, our competitive edge is that we’re not a big-box chain restaurant like all the others around here, serving mass product out of a box. Our owner has Joon Yang has a few other restaurants with the singular goal to serve fresh food prepared daily. We serve traditional smokehouse food with nuanced and bold flavors. Besides the brisket, two other leading dishes are Burnt Ends, which is twice-smoked brisket served with barbecue sauce, and our Pulled Pork. Our menu also offers other classics, like Crabmeat-stuffed Salmon, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and our own Jambalaya.
Boxerbrand: What does the customer experience when they walk through your doors?
Hall: They enter a long restaurant outfitted with leather banquettes along walls of natural wood. We have a long bar running along one wall with 15 chairs and a dining room that seats around 35. And we have an additional 30 seats in our patio. We have several staff members who’ve been here a number of years, including our bartender, who has been here for 10 years and two kitchen managers who’ve been here for approximately five. Our staff is like a family, and they’re eager to be in this industry and to make dining with us a positive, memorable experience.
Boxerbrand: What makes you optimistic about the future of hospitality?
Hall: I think a lot of people are much more appreciative of the hospitality industry than they ever were. And that translates to successful future planning and growth. In the three years I’ve been here we’ve had two other concepts emerging from Epic. One is a second bar and event space we’re opening near Amazon Park. This will feature an extensive bourbon and wine list. And the other concept I can’t reveal yet, but when it opens, people in this area are going to be ecstatic! — Epic Smokehouse of Arlington, VA uses Boxerbrand’s Linen Naturals and Metallic Tones menu cover lines in their table presentation. Thank you!