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Fulfilling a BBQ Need

AJ'S BBQ Pit in East Los keeps a tradition alive

By Erick Huerta
Published on LatinoLA: June 30, 2009

Fulfilling a BBQ Need

When Jim Roman first decided to open up AJ'S BBQ Pit, he didn't know what to expect. He didn't know if the place would take off or if it would be dead on arrival, yet his faith in God and the support from his family are slowly, but surely making AJ'S the place to go for barbeque east of the river.

Roman, who owned a trucking business before opening up the pit, has had a lifelong connection to food, sports and great barbeque. Whether it was helping his mother in her catering business in Lincoln Heights called "The Joint",?áor barbequing for friends, family and Raiders fans, Roman's passion and charm made sure that people left full in both body and spirit.

With a simple menu, but rich food, AJ'S BBQ Pit offers good old fashioned, finger-licking, bone-sucking barbeque with an East Los twist to it.

Whether it's adding pepper jack cheese to his quesadillas, throwing in some jalape??os into his mouth watering tri-tip sandwiches or creating his own Cali-cheese steak, Roman lets his food do the talking.

Everything on the menu is homemade and perfected after years of trial and error, mixing things around and experimenting until finally finding the right mix for his signature barbeque sauce, a combination of 18 different spices that give the sauce a taste all of its own, not too sweet but just right. Roman describes it as combination of North Carolina and Texas styles mixed into one.

The sauce compliments the ribs and chicken, which are slowly cooked over oak wood, birthing a unique style of barbeque that fans will become addicted to and want to share with family and friends.

Since opening up in April, Roman is seeing people come in one by one and coming back, a sign that he is in the right place. After all, the building AJ'S uses was a Mexican restaurant before, but even way before that, when it first opened, it was a barbeque place. It was all meant to be.

East L.A. needs it own barbeque place and AJ'S is fulfilling that need. ?á

"Something [my mom] would always tell me when I was younger was that she would help me open up my own restaurant. Of course I never listened to her because I was young and didn't know any better, but here I am now," says Roman. He still remembers those days because he would help his mom wherever he could whether he liked it or not. He would do his part and get tamales from an ice chest so they can be cooked and help his mom distribute food to homeless people, leftovers from the restaurant.

Keeping the tradition that his mother instilled in him as a young man, Roman wants to do his part and contribute to the community. He plans to incorporate fundraising events for local high school sports teams, recognizing student's achievements as well as local heroes in the area. He wants to dedicate the walls of the restaurant to the local heroes, to recognize them, to show that they're appreciated.

Roman is eager to give back to the community he loves any way he can. Just by opening his doors and reaching to the youth of the community, he hopes he can be the spark that'll get them going on the path to greatness. Having four daughters himself, he knows that kids need positive influence in their lives.

It'll take some time before Roman reaches his goals of reaching out to the community, expanding his menu and his restaurant, but he is a patient man. He understands that God won't give him a task he's not ready to handle. He knows it's only a matter of time. "To be rich is not to have the most, but to need the least," says Roman, and with his family at his side helping at the restaurant, he's a billionaire.

An East Los Original
3691 E. 3rd Street
East Los Angeles 90063

(323) 263-RIBS

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