FANCY GAP — A local engineer turned restaurateur is hoping a passion on fresh will encourage those in the fast lane to use the “PitStop Pasta and Grill” for a delicious break from the usual.
The new restaurant decided to blend a bit of the former Gearhead Diner’s decor with a new menu following new owner Abraheem Rabee being introduced to the establishment by a friend. Rabee’s food service career began when he was studying engineering in college. His wife, Elizabeth Rabee, serves as manager for the firm, which employs four cooks and 10 on waitstaff (including Elizabeth).
The PitStop is open seven days a week. It is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m Sunday through Thursday and on Friday and Saturday it is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is located on 7145 Chances Creek Road in Fancy Gap. More information may be obtained by calling 276-728-2888. It serves breakfast including omelettes, biscuits, waffles and pancakes and offers turkey sausage and turkey bacon as a healthier alternative on this menu. It also features lunch special for $5.95 Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s lunch and supper menu includes appetizers, salads, New York Style Rice Platters, pasta entrees, subs, parmigiana subs and plates, burgers and wings (pizza was recently added to the list) and offers desserts and a kids menu.
“I’m a mechanical engineer. I work at Volvo,” said Abraheem Rabee. “The restaurant business is like a side business for me. I’ve been in this business for six years. I love everything about it and I’m trying to expand it as much as I can.”
He said the more he worked in kitchens during college, the more he began to love about it. He said he learned how to train people in cooking, teaching them the techniques he’d learned under the mentorship of a chef. Rabee said he is considering establishing two other restaurants in the region. He also plans on bringing engineering skills to bear to produce food preparation training videos for his workstaffs, lessening the “experience gap” typically experienced by new restaurants.
“We’re planning on doing something online. Someone can watch all the plates we are cooking and train before they start on their first day. Hopefully we are going to start something like a chain of Pit Stops. We are going to start with Carroll County and we are looking at Grayson County. We are also looking at a location in Fairfax that will be open four months from now.” (Rabee is also looking to offer what he said will be “something very new” for the area in a restaurant in Galax.)
He said he is very excited about seeing his vision for the restaurant and its cuisine unfold. The reality of the logistics as the firm looks to expand is also another incentive for his online training concept. His experience as a project manager will, no doubt, serve him well as he seeks to have his staffers delivering the best to customers from day one.
“We are almost done with the videos which will show workers how to cook our plates, how much time the item is to be cooked for. How to cook perfect, Italian food,” Rabee said. “When you (first) open you want people to be served the best. It’s tough to get them back. I got my two (lead) cooks to train together for two weeks before I opened so they understand each other because we want the very best quality in a short period of time.”
He said he uses 100 percent butter in everything he cooks and makes all his sauces and dressings on the premises. He said he is looking to start a series of nights which will feature steak, Greek-Egyptian dishes and seafood. PitStop also offers catering.
“It’s (Greek/Egyptian) a new cuisine for the area here and I’m looking forward to pushing it here,” Rabee said. “We already have a lot of homemade desserts. I’m done with frozen foods. I’m trying to offer people something fresh every single day. It’s easy to get canned stuff but when you make it homemade; that’s what people come back for. Good, homemade stuff. I make buttermilk biscuits and gravy every single morning”
He said the restaurant waited on the much-anticipated addition of pizza until a brick oven could be installed. He said the dough is made fresh every day and has topped sales after its debut two weeks ago. He said he and his wife, who were taking a pit stop themselves, visited and fell in love with the decor.
“It’s so very easy to get canned food but we want to offer people something special. We’re getting very, very good reviews online. We start with fresh tomatoes for our marinara sauce. You can buy Alfredo sauce but we make ours from cream with all the spices. We make it to order for your plate only. Every single plate. Desserts are the same thing. We start early every morning making our biscuits and cakes for people,” said Rabee. “A lot of customers come for that. That’s what I’m happiest about. You can tell the difference when you eat fresh food or canned food.“
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.