Over the past six months, Edward Reavis admits he went a little “smoker crazy.” While preparing to open Money Muscle BBQ, a new food truck and takeout operation based out of All Set Restaurant and Bar in Silver Spring, the chef says he toyed with — and rejected — smoking devices fueled by charcoal and electricity. The piece of equipment he settled on, the one that’s responsible for tenderizing the pork butts, brisket, ribs, chicken, and turkey legs the Money Muscle truck starts selling today on Fenton Street, is a commercial, wood pellet-burning Meatlocker he ordered from the builders at Pitts and Spitts in Houston.
“I can put 10 briskets on this thing at the same time,” Reavis says.
Investing more than $5,000 in a smoker shows that Reavis and Jennifer Meltzer, the managing partner and the chef’s wife, are serious about barbecue as a business. The COVID-19 pandemic made them realize the importance of takeout and delivery. That meant reconfiguring a restaurant known for oysters on the half shell and lobster rolls. Reavis was drawn to the power of pulled pork shoulder. He grew up in Emporia, Virginia, just across the state line from North Carolina. He remembers attending the annual Virginia Pork Festival, how visitors would pour in from all over the country to tuck into barbecue on some of the hottest days of the year.
Although Reavis feels he’s getting back to his roots, he’s not limiting himself to one regional style of barbecue. Money Muscle sells a Texas-style brisket that’s rubbed with only salt, pepper, and thyme before it gets smoked with oak. Carolina pulled pork and barbecue rubbed chicken get more sweetness and spice, Reavis says. The chef coats both a bone-in beef rib and a brined, smoked turkey leg with a barbecue demi-glace he makes out of turkey bones. The Meatlocker smokes everything at All Set, and a holding oven in the truck keeps it warm. There’s a tomato-based Kansas City sauce, a vinegar-based North Carolina-style sauce, and a mustard-tinted South Carolina gold.
“Ed will have very simple ingredients and dishes and then have a banging sauce or a marinade or a brine that kind of kicks it up a notch,” Meltzer says.
The sides skew traditional, including barbecue beans, mac and cheese, and cornbread. Reavis developed three kinds of coleslaw, including a mild variety, a spicy option, and a vegenaise-based chipotle slaw. that lands atop a black bean and quinoa burger. A menu section for “bakes” includes cheddar sriracha biscuits, skillet cornbread, and chocolate chip cookies.
Before they bought the truck, Reavis and Meltzer started selling barbecue as part of All Set’s tweaked “shelter-in-place” menu. The Money Muscle truck is parked outside of All Set (8630 Fenton Street0 to start, but once it begins exploring local breweries and other locations, customers will still be able to place curbside pickup and in-house delivery orders from the restaurant. The business extends to Montgomery County and Prince George’s County to start, but Reavis and Meltzer are hoping to expand into D.C. and Virginia soon.
Money Muscle also offers weekend packages themed by protein — like a “poultry party” with wings, barbecue chicken, and a turkey leg — that come with all the sides and feed two people (at least) for $70 to $80. Customers must preorder by 5 p.m. Thursday to pick up packs on Saturday and Sunday.
Meltzer says Money Muscle can cater private parties for social distancing crowds who want to put out a spread of barbecue and lobster rolls. After opening day, September 11, the Money Muscle BBQ truck plans to post its location on Twitter and Instagram.