By Shruti Bhatt
The owner of Fat Pete’s BBQ has closed one shop and open another called The Stuffed Turtle as of February 23.
Owner Jeff Holibaugh said he had to close Fat Pete’s BBQ because “it just was not working.” The feedback he received from students was that the prices of each item sold on the menu were too expensive, he said.
“We would have specials and deals but it was still too high. And at that point, I was basically giving out the food for free.”
Holibaugh said Fat Pete’s BBQ in Washington, D.C. has won multiple awards, but it wasn’t getting the same reactions in College Park. He said he had to make a choice of either selling it or trying something completely different.
Holibaugh said when he was deciding on what to try next, he went around to a few different campuses and saw which types of food work best for college students. He then came back to College Park and opened The Stuffed Turtle.
The Stuffed Turtle sells different kinds of sandwiches, all of which are hot and stuffed with mozzarella sticks or french fries in addition to other toppings.
“It’s like a grease food truck,” Holibaugh said.
“We’re shooting for outstanding Philly-style cheesesteaks and chicken sandwiches. We’re the only place around here that exclusively serves all of their sandwiches hot,” he said. “We’re our own thing.”
Computer science major Chirag Shankar said he went to Fat Pete’s once with a group of friends and remembers the bill being really high. “It was good quality food, and if it were cheaper I would eat it more often, but it’s not. It’s a lot of money for college kids who are looking for cheap deals,” he said.
Shankar said he hasn’t been to The Stuffed Turtle yet but has heard good reviews about it.
“One of my friends went and said it was one of the best sandwiches he’s ever eaten.” he said.
Holibaugh, a UMD alumnus, said there isn’t even a proper sign up yet, and there has already been a huge influx of customers.
“There was such little success with advertising for Fat Pete’s. I spent the most money on advertising for Fate Pete’s than I ever did for anything else,” he said.
For The Stuffed Turtle, however, Holibaugh said he is still trying to figure it out, but plans to use guerilla-style flyering, which means including coupons on flyers.
“We’re hitting a better mark with this one,” he said.
Abiha Abbas, junior biology and math major, said she came across The Stuffed Turtle on Facebook.
“I was with my friends and we saw the page, clicked on it and saw the different pictures of sandwiches. They all looked so good,” she said. “We decided to go the next day.”
Abbas said she and her friends enjoyed the food, and she was excited because it was something different.
She said, “Hot sandwiches stuffed with french fries? What more could you ask for?”