• 70°

BBQ/pancake restaurant opens in Chesapeake

CHESAPEAKE — It’s taking what they like to do and turning it into a thriving business. That’s how the latest family restaurant in Chesapeake has come about.

About two weeks ago, Carla and Keith Benson opened up Porky’s BBQ and Pancake Palace in the former Kmart shopping center, calling on the recipes for barbecue and grilling they have used for years at home.

“There was not an ‘all you can eat’ restaurant in the area, where people can get fresh barbecue and have as much as they want,” Carla Benson said. “And since we would be here in the mornings, we thought we might as well do something for breakfast.”

Mornings come early for the Bensons who start at 6 a.m. smoking 120 pounds of pork and three cases of spare ribs a day. Smoking takes between 10 to 14 hours before the meat is the way they want it.

“Every restaurant will serve barbecue, but it is not smoked like this,” Carla said. “It is brought in frozen.”

About an hour after the meat is in the smoker, the kitchen of the restaurant opens up to serve elaborate 14-inch pancakes, French toast and four egg omelets.

Pancakes and French toast can come served with fruit, whipped cream, chocolate chips and candy bars. Omelets can come plain or with bacon, ham, mushroom, cheese, potatoes, onions, broccoli or chicken.

The Bensons met in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where they had pizza restaurants and ice cream shops for five years before moving to the Tri-State.

Carla is a native of Kenova, W.Va., but Keith hails from Massachusetts where he ran bagel bakeries.

“We decided we wanted to do a business and found a need,” Carla said. “It was something that was a common need that would serve the community. Then we found a location by Sam’s and Walmart.”

Among the features at the restaurant is that the meat is served smoked but without barbecue sauce.

A variety of sauces are on the table so the diner can add what is wanted. Also this is an ‘all you can eat’ menu that is not served buffet-style.

“We bring the food to the table,” Carla said. “You don’t have to worry about who touched the silverware. It is brought to you fresh.”

Right now there are 15 on staff with the Bensons expecting to expand, including franchising restaurants out in West Virginia and Kentucky.

Since its opening the restaurant has already quadrupled the amount of meat it serves daily.

“We like to eat and well-made food is important,” she said. “And here children feel comfortable.”

Porky’s is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with breakfast served all day. Lunch and dinner menu starts at 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.