We’ve been serving our wood-only barbeque to loyal DC-area fans since 1990. The story starts before that, though: John Snedden started barbequeing whole pigs when he was in college. (Aren’t we all glad he changed his plans and did not become a doctor?) Check out our timeline to get more of the the story.
1977John Snedden leaves home to attend Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, where he barbeques whole pigs for fraternities and local farms.
1978Unhappy with store-bought sauces, John experiments to create Rocklands Original Barbeque Sauce, named after the farm where he lives. The new sauce is an instant success among John’s pals and local barbeque lovers.
1983John moves to Washington, DC, where he caters his first party. In the same year, he enters the International Barbeque Competition — and wins first place for ribs.
1987Flooded with requests, John begins catering full-time from his home. He’s cooking for everything from weddings and picnics to fund-raisers and company parties (and he still is!).
1990John’s dream of owning his own real barbeque restaurant finally comes true. In December, Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company opens its doors at 2418 Wisconsin Avenue in Washington DC, and John hires his first 7 employees.
1991At the end of its first year of business, Rocklands has served over 20,000 pounds of pork.
1993John Snedden gets a call from the White House, asking for menu suggestions. His ideas are used in Bill and Hillary Clinton’s first State Dinner.
1994Overwhelmed by demands for quality catering services, Rocklands staff increases to 20 people.
1995Rocklands at Carpool opens its doors in Ballston, Virginia. Now barbeque lovers can enjoy a game of billiards and a mug of beer with their favorite food. Rocklands staff expands to 45 people and the company serves over 66,000 pounds of pork.
1997Determined to bring a taste of Rocklands to the nation, John bottles Rocklands Original Barbeque Sauce and begins nationwide distribution.
1998With two locations and full-service catering and party planning, the Rocklands staff now numbers 75 employees serving over 100,000 pounds of pork annually.
2000Rocklands celebrates the millennium and its tenth anniversary by saying “thank you” to the loyal customers who’ve been eating Rocklands barbeque for a decade.
2003Rocklands is awarded the “Good Neighbor Award” by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
2004The next Rocklands opens at 25 South Quaker Lane in Alexandria, VA, as both a restaurant and catering kitchen. There’s now more elbow room for the catering team to create great events!
2005An expiring management agreement leads to the closing of the Carpool location in Ballston. The Rocklands team is already thinking about new options to keep serving its loyal Arlington customers.
2006February sees the opening of Rocklands in Rockville, in the Wintergreen Plaza at 891A Rockville Pike.
2007In December, Rocklands Arlington opens its doors at 3471 Washington Boulevard. The mural is an instant hit.
2009Marking the inauguration of the nation’s 44th president, Rocklands introduces limited-edition Barack Obama Hot Sauce, a chipotle-rich condiment we can all support.
2010Rocklands thanks all its restaurant and catering customers for 20 amazing years. We’re happy to serve you barbeque!
2011Our first tweets go out to the world. We now tweet blue-plate specials from each location every day.
2012The launch of Rocklands Malt Salt and Blackening Rub adds two more homemade products to our restaurants and to our retailing partners (like Whole Foods and Wegmans).
2013For the fifth year in a row, fans vote us “Best of DC: BBQ” in Washington City Paper’s well-known annual poll (thanks, all!).
2014We cater our largest party to date — 3,900 people — and help 38 couples celebrate their marriages with weddings catered by ROCKLANDS.
2015This year, ROCKLANDS turns 25. A quarter-century since we opened our doors on Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park (where we are still in our original location). Thank you to every person who has come through those doors for barbeque over the years. And thanks to our staff, who together have worked for ROCKLANDS for a total of 656 years.