If you had the pleasure to be in the Crittenden-Eclipse neighborhood for the 4th of July, you probably also had the pleasure of receiving a gift certificate for a complimentary pork BBQ sandwich or ice cream from QDaddy’s Pitmaster BBQ. Last year was my first introduction to the family-owned and operated restaurant based in Smithfield, Wakefield, and, soon, Yorktown. Made fresh every day, QDaddy’s food is Southern comfort that stands out. We had the pleasure of chatting with Joy Witten Andrus about her involvement with her family’s business, her passion for our neighborhood, and her involvement with the Nansemond Swim Club.
When Joy thinks about what QDaddy’s Pitmaster BBQ is all about, smoked meats, hospitality, and her father’s dream are what come to mind. Her dad had a competition BBQ cook team called QDaddy’s (a nod to his seven children), and his BBQ started to get some notoriety as he won more and more competitions. Joy’s siblings learned their dad’s pitmaster secrets to make award-winning pulled pork, briskets, and ribs, and her brother Jesse worked to bring their family’s recipes to the greater public. When Jesse left the Marine Corps, he and his wife moved back to Smithfield to start a BBQ restaurant, and all of the siblings felt strongly about bringing this vision to life. Jesse wanted to find a hole-in-the-wall, sandwich counter kind of restaurant, and it took him two years to find the perfect location. Church Street in Smithfield had a Tasty Treat that was being sold, but the deal fell through on the day of signing. 24 hours later the building they now own came on the market. It was an old Texaco and was so dilapidated that it took 8 months to fix it up. It opened on January 13th, 2017 which happened to be a Friday…which also happened to be a day filled with major snow and ice. Even given all of those bad omens, they immediately sold out. The next day they cooked even more and sold out again. They were a genuine hit right away.
Knowing they’d need to duplicate to build a brand, they began looking for a second location. They decided on Wakefield by happenstance on a family drive. Mirroring their luck at the Smithfield location, they put in an offer and purchased the property the week of the COVID lockdown. Joy’s three brothers Trey, Caleb, and Robert Witten (all Eclipse born and raised) own a contracting company named Tidewater Probuild. Together with Jesse, the four brothers devoted all of the resources of their entire company to help rebuild the QDaddy’s Wakefield location during COVID. If it hadn’t been for TPB, the project would never have been completed. Because they were able to pivot their business model during COVID to focus on takeout, their business took a huge leap.
They are proud to be expanding into the former Pop’s Diner in Yorktown. Joy believes that Yorktown’s community-driven mindset compliments their family’s business model and beliefs. QDaddy’s works hard to and takes pride in donating to everyone who asks for it so that they can give back to their local community. They are huge supporters of the Crittenden Eclipse 4th of July celebration.
The spirit of giving in her family’s restaurant is also reflected in her family’s strong community ties. Joy is a board member for the Nansemond Swim Club and organized the pool’s swim team and summer movie series. She and her husband sell burgers, hot dogs, and movie popcorn as family-friendly movies play on a big screen in front of the pool. Children and their families can watch while they float in the water. Members of the pool are welcome to watch The Lego Movie play this Friday and Moana play next Friday.
The community pool was built in 1968 by a group of parents in the neighborhood who purchased the property. Joy’s four children are on the swim team and her sister Michaela Witten Skinner is the general manager, so there really is a spirit of family togetherness when she volunteers there.
If you are interested in learning more about QDaddy’s Pitmaster BBQ, please visit their website: