Gorilla BBQ has made Pacifica well known as a food destination for its mouth-watering ribs and tender brisket. Fans routinely line up outside the small historic rail car in Vallemar on the weekends, often for as long as two hours.
But under COVID-19 pandemic rules, the little kitchen and takeout shop couldn’t safely open until this month, and then only on the weekends. Other restaurants have been offering takeout, outdoor dining or limiting capacity inside, but none of those options worked for Gorilla BBQ.
“We have such a tiny footprint inside,” said the owner, Rich Bacchi. “I am here working with only three employees. I am only letting in one customer at a time.”
Bacchi modified the menu to temporarily discontinue the hot side dishes that accompany the meats, except for sandwiches. Everything must be purchased a la carte.
“We are selling out in five hours, 1,000 pounds of meat a day,” he said. “I have a lot of new customers.”
People come from as far away as Placerville and Sacramento to enjoy Gorilla BBQ, and they are willing to wait, Bacchi said.
The line before opening time on Saturday was composed mostly of Pacificans and the nearby crowd from San Francisco, South San Francisco and San Bruno. Some were excited to experience Gorilla BBQ for the first time. Other regulars were looking forward to ordering their favorites – ribs, chicken, brisket and mac and cheese – after such a long time. They didn’t mind the wait in line, which on this day was going to be about 30 minutes to an hour.
Gorilla BBQ has been in business since 2006. Bacchi has been featured twice on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” hosted by TV chef Guy Fieri. The most recent
taping in April, after pandemic lockdown, was a take-out edition called “Funky Finds in Da House” and was filmed in Fieri’s house. Bacchi created a smoked turkey gorilla berry sandwich for the occasion.
He’s open from 12 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays for now.
“Everything is fresh every day. We use the highest quality ingredients we can,” said Bacchi.