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CTO Smoker Opens Door for Menu Creativity + Smarter Business Model

Category: Customer Features

Turtle + The Wolf
Turtle + The Wolf
Turtle + The Wolf

Turtle + The Wolf
Owner: Lauren Hirschberg
622 Valley Rd. | Upper Montclair, NJ 07043 | Instagram

Check out this story from one of our customers, Lauren Hirschberg with Turtle + The Wolf. He’s adapted his restaurant’s menu and specials to meet the changing needs of his customers, while using his Ole Hickory Pits smoker to introduce some new flavors.


Lauren got started using an OHP smoker in the barbecue competition world, relying on Ole Hickory Pits quality every year at Memphis in May. “When the bbq pitmasters from around the country would come up to NYC for the Big Apple BBQ Block Party,” Hirschberg said, “we would help them cook for the weekend. We’d also help with getting ingredients, finding extra sets of hands, and acting as resources to hook the guys up with last minute restaurant reservations around town. All this led to friendships with David Knight and his family, as well as an appreciation for the cookers that they have built. We have used them every year in Memphis for the past few years of competition, and couldn’t be happier with them.”

Restaurant Life

Now running his restaurant Turtle + The Wolf in a New Jersey suburb west of NYC, Lauren combines elevated comfort food with seasonal bistro flavors — serving up entrees like Duck Confit Pot Pie with Foie Gras or Smoked Beef Ribs with Black Garlic Jus.

“When we first opened the restaurant,” Hirschberg said, “we had a small cabinet smoker to do certain items like sausages and occasionally a ham or pork shoulder. Bbq was not really apart of our repertoire until about 3 years ago, when Alex from Ole Hickory Pits reached out and asked if I wanted to purchase a CTO.”

Once he got his hands on it, Turtle + The Wolf’s menu began to incorporate more items cooked in the CTO. For example, the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs became a Smoked Beef Rib during the summertime, paired with fresh produce like corn and tomatoes, grown nearby in New Jersey. It gave them a different avenue to work with some of the same products they were already familiar with, but in totally new and inventive ways.

“In addition to this, we now had the fire power to do some pop-up style menus focused more on traditional bbq,” said Hirschberg. For their first Father’s Day service after purchasing the CTO, they scrapped their whole menu and did a barbecue restaurant for the day, which they repeated the following year.

Adapting in 2020

With the lack of in-person dining due to COVID-19, the use of the Ole Hickory Pits smokers allowed them to do smoked specials for their curbside pick-up service on Father’s, Memorial, Independence, and Labor days. Hirschberg said these specials were hugely popular with their customers. They also introduced a weekly “smoker special,” which is essentially a dinner-for-two curbside pick-up.

“The Ole Hickory smoker gave us an opportunity to do some things we were not normally known for,” added Hirschberg. “It allowed us to try new things and get creative with our menu, as well as our service model.”

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