Hot darn! We wanted to update you with the best history we could, so we added a page to our new website! Go here to read the history.
I'm so pleased that I have loyal customers that come to see me at my events. Thanks to them I've been listed in so many magazines, newspapers, online blogs, sites, TV and radio spots. It is for them I strive to use the healthiest foods, highest quality ingredients, serve good portions, make steps to go greener, and have spoken out against growth hormones that big beef factories put in meats. I work with many charities, started a scholarship and I give back every day as life allows me to do what I love to do. I'd like to retire but I can't, because grillin' BBQ is in my blood. It's what I love to do, and maybe that's why I'm good at it.
MORE INFORMATION AND A COMPLETE LIST OF ARTICLES ABOUT BIG FAT DADDY'S CAN BE FOUND HERE ON OUR NEWS PAGE!
You may also want to read Wayne's story of what happened with the old pit beef stand, and what really happened between the Schafer brothers.
Or you can read more below.
The Road to Big Fat Daddy's 1963 - 1994
I was born in Baltimore in 1963. At age 6 my mother, a waitress used to haul me off to work. I remember spending lots of time at the Pine Ridge in Towson, and in the back of busy kitchens like Chiparelli's, a five star Baltimore restaurant. I learned to cook Cajun food from a chef named Al, who is still a friend of mine to this day. Mom and my Stepfather had a concessions business on the weekends, and I learned the trade from them. My Stepfather taught me how to build my own stands, and how to make a dollar. I felt like I was always working, no time for play, and we grew up without a lot of money.
When I was in high school, I married my first wife and moved out of home to start my very first concessions business, called J and W Foods. It was located on Kenwood Avenue in Rosedale. Being young and dumb, I quickly found out that this was a great summer based business, but would still have to find work in restaurants in the winter. Not to mention the neighbors didn't like me operating a business from home. I guess you can say I wasn't even out of high school and I was already an entrepreneur. I had to make a living for my family, and chose to do the responsible thing.
Conceptually the idea for Big Fat Daddy's started in 1982 when I had the vision to open a "bar and beef restaurant" called "The Boars Nest", with my brother Brian as we were always dreaming up our next move and had some crazy ideas. I dreamed of the day my stick wood stands at fairs would be done and I'd be able to build bigger and better ones, make my own smokers and trade in the crappy carnival pizza and gristle crap-fair sausage and start selling beef and barbecue. I knew I could make it happen and would experiment with turkey legs here or barbecue there at festivals.
On my down time I'd sit around with my friends and I would cook with hardwoods and experiments with different cuts of beef searing it at high temperatures on grills with different woods and rubs. In these early days, the KCBS was just starting and not much attention was given to the art of smoking or grilling. I guess you could say I'm old school and sitting around with some pals smoking up some chicken low and slow or a beef butt or brisket was the thing to do.
I supposed the thing was not many people agreed with me mixing up a bunch of spice and rubbing it up under my chicken skin or up under my turkey on the smoker. I then would rub my beef. I wouldn't soak it in marinate because I found the herbs and salt based rubs I created were adding just a bit of flavor and enhancing the natural taste of the meats. I can't tell you how many blends I had tried before I had that aha moment. That spice is still being used by me today.
Back to the story...I never managed to save the start up money for the Boars Nest since I was soon moving into quiet town of Fawn Grove, PA. Here I had more room zoning for a commercial warehouse added to our tiny farm, now having two children. In case you are wondering, the name "Big Fat Daddy's" was given to me by my daughter Elizabeth. I liked that so much better than the Boar's Nest. I guess I was big and fat and so she told everyone when she was a child that I was her "Big Fat Daddy." I thought it was a cute, never realizing the name would be all over the place one day or I may have called it something else. I get a lot of crazy prank phone calls and my emails always go to spam. Oh well. Such is life.
Soon, I'd be driving back to Baltimore for work, in restaurants such as Gibby's and Tully's in the winter months. Distance caused a strain and years passed. I would soon go through a sseparation and eventual divorce. I was making plans to give the business and house in Fawn Grove to my ex wife Janet. Ironically she would sell her business to my brother, Brian. I guess you could say that was a shock to me, because now everything was coming full circle.
It seemed like my vision for Big Fat Daddy's was already underway as reality, and now Brian just bought my festivals slots back, and could go into our existing spots selling our new beef and barbecue just like I had planned.
And we did, and did we.
Big Fat Partnership and Pit Beef Row History 1995-1998
In addition to my Big Fat Daddy's fairs, festivals, and special events, I would soon open a small wooden shack with Brian on Route 40 in Rosedale, in a strip known as Pit Beef Row circa 1996. This was a roadside restaurant (roadside dive) that was in Baltimore County. Soon we would be creating the famous Schafer brother recipes. It was there we had created the special dry rub seasoning and the way we fine sliced the beef for "Pit Beef." We also had the best cream of crab soup in Baltimore, but you won't find mention of that as people were too busy eating our beef. We worked together for a while, but things got old quick.
|Big Fat Daddy's famous pit beef, no bun.|
Innovators of the New Millenium 1998-2000
As brothers will do, we got on each other's nerves, and I was soon remarried with another child on the way! Tensions were high as I had a certain way of doing things and so did Brian. We soon agreed that Brian managed the Big Fat Daddy's pit beef stand on Route 40 and I would stay in the Big Fat Daddy's warehouse on Philadelphia Road (right around the corner) to take care of the fairs, festivals and some catering events.
By 1999-2000 the pit beef blend at the very small wooden shack gained some notoriety. Big Fat Daddy's was featured in Saveur Magazine, the New York Times and Steven Raichlen's BBQ Books which continued through the mid 2000's thanks to Steven reprinting the original NY Times article or dry rub recipes many times in his BBQ USA Books. I didn't mind that my brother took all the credit, because either way, it was good publicity for my business and he was in charge of the pit. What I did mind was the fact he was not managing his money wisely.
Let's just say, this was the hardest time in my life. It was like a pile of dominoes. First I had a heart attack at 37 years old. Then the pit beef stand would close SEE WHY HERE & READ THE REAL STORY. My brother decided to take his show on the a road under "Brian's Big Fat Daddy's" in essence competing against the original "Big Fat Daddy's" which became very confusing and stressful to us both and was unclear in our original agreement. On top of that I was finding myself in divorce court again. The second ex wouldn't divorce me unless I gave her half my business after only six years of marriage, and I agreed. Of course, this backfired as she tried to "Big Fat Daddy's" name all over the place and operate at the same fairs and festivals--voiding all terms of our divorce. So, this whole time in my life was one big fat mess. This is when I lost all my hair. (Really.) So I had to get a lawyer on all accounts, and then life got a lot easier.
Soon I won ownership of my own Company that I made as crazy as that sounds. Brian started another company and we could finally go back to being brothers versus business partners. The ex went away and did her own thing and I guess it seems like a lot of crap to go through just to keep a name your daughter gave you, but it boils down to integrity. If it's your sweat, love and tears you should keep the vision pure as long as you can. It was my life's dream and I was honest about that in all my relationships since day one. I'm not a bad guy just a severe workaholic. It was time to regroup again and take the vision to the next level. Maybe I'm a hardcore BBQ guy,or just crazy, I don't know.
Big Fat Daddy's 2007 - 2011
I made huge changes in my personal and professional life. I married my soulmate and decided it was time to put Big Fat Daddy's out there. On the web, on twitter, on tumblr, on facebook, and here on this very blog. I was always a quiet person but it was time to talk. I started blogging and tweeting, and sharing more of Big Fat Daddy's with the world.
|Rachael Ray Magazine|
"Big Fat Daddy's Maryland Pick (GRILLING ISSUE) June 2010"
|I've catered for the best of the best, including Baltimore's finest including Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens. Photo: Ray Lewis, Wayne Schafer, Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer and cousins Mike Vecchio and Nick Vecchio.|
I was featured in many more magazines and articles. I started the Anna Stickel Scholarship and started working with more charities--it was time to give back for being able to do what I loved to do all these years.
Big Fat Daddy's Grilling Thirty Years 1982-2012
2012 marks three decades of me grilling my beef and barbecue, making my own wooden stands, fabricating and welding my own pits, designing my own signs and tshirts, and blending my own spices. I've been in the food industry my whole life, but only have I been the beef and pork grilling fool those people call "Big Fat Daddy" for three decades thanks to my followers and loyal customers that look for me each year at their county fair.
2012 and Beyond: The Next Frontier - Goodbye Baltimore
I moved my facility from renting in Baltimore for three decades to a three and a half acre compound in Manchester, PA (York County). Working over winter 2011, in 2012 it was complete. Now I have my licensed catering kitchen, offices and workshop, and it's quiet. I still serve the Baltimore area for catering and concessions. I sit on the farm and think about retiring someday, but it won't happen. I know I'll die with tongs in my hand and fire in my pit.
I still sell my original Backyard BBQ menu in 7 states from Virginia to New Jersey, mostly at Fairs, Festivals, and Kansas City Barbeque Society events. I am a member of the KCBS and MABBQA, but try not to compete, only sell! I started the Hogging Up BBQ and Music Festival and KCBS Competition in Winchester, Virginia . Hope to see you all there.