When the restaurant’s founder and chief executive was growing up in Bethesda, he frequently visited his grandparents and other relatives in the small town of Lockhart, Tex., famous for its barbecue. “My aunt [in Lockhart] would sometimes ship up a brisket or sauce to us,” recalls Glosserman, 36, who bears a vague resemblance to the mid-1970s Jackson Browne. “As we were eating it, we kept wishing, ‘It would be so great if there was something like this in Washington.’ ”
Glosserman had what he calls a “real East Coast upbringing.” He attended Georgetown Day School (and now sits on the board of directors). He played soccer and lacrosse in high school. He went to sports camp in Maine in the summer and went skiing in Colorado. He partied in Georgetown.
Lockhart, where his grandparents lived (his grandfather was mayor in the 1950s) and his father grew up, was a world apart. Glosserman caught fireflies there in the still, hot nights, played football in the front yard, went tubing at Schlitterbahn, a nearby water park. Uncles, aunts and cousins would gather and chow down on fried chicken, black-eyed peas and chicken-fried steak. And always, he’d go to Kreuz Market to eat barbecue.
When he was in his 20s, Glosserman would visit Texas, but he’d catch bands, not fireflies, at Austin’s fabled nightclubs. Meanwhile, he attended the University of Pennsylvania and, after graduation, co-founded a highly successful Bethesda-based telecom company. He moved to London and oversaw an expansion of the business. After realizing that “this wasn’t something I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” he quit the tech world and journeyed for six months around Europe and Asia. In his travels, he was taken by the deep sense of place so often expressed in the local cuisine.
In 2003, Glosserman returned to Lockhart to attend a cousin’s wedding. He was eating at Kreuz when that notion of a sense of place, this time as tasted in the brisket, merged with an American-style business idea. He would open a Texas barbecue restaurant, only not in Texas but in Manhattan, where he lives. In 2004, he enrolled in the business school at Columbia University to research the plan.
“I had no background in the restaurant business, other than being a big fan of barbecue and Kreuz Market,” he says. “If we could do anything even close to what they do, there was nothing even remotely like it in the Northeast, and it would be a terrific thing to introduce to the marketplace.”
Glosserman put together a team of restaurant-savvy veterans: Elizabeth Karmel, a cookbook author who taught a barbecue class at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, became executive chef, and John Shaw, who handled operations for New York restaurant powerhouses Danny Meyer and David Bouley, became the chief operating officer.