Kevin McGrath and Steve Rogge always said they’d open a restaurant together when pigs fly.
After almost 10 years in the making, that day has arrived.
The Chesterfield natives on Tuesday opened the Flyin’ Pig Backyard Grill in the Waterford Shopping Center near the intersection of Charter Colony Parkway and Genito Road.
They’ve been dreaming about going into business since their days at Clover Hill High School, about two blocks from their new restaurant at 13560 Waterford Place.
“We’ve been talking about this restaurant thing for so long that we eventually started saying we’d open a restaurant when pigs fly,” McGrath said. “And here it is.”
The restaurant will feature such cookout favorites as barbecue, grilled chicken, hotdogs and hamburgers.
“We are going to have a wide variety of food,” said Rogge, 29. “Barbecue is very popular, but it’s also a food that people have definite ideas about what they like. Some people will say, ‘well, I only like Carolina-style barbecue’ and won’t even try anything else.”
Rogge, who most recently worked in the kitchen at Q Barbecue, is the chef for Flying Pig, and he developed four sauces for barbecue lovers of all stripes: Alabama white, Kansas City-style, North Carolina-style and Buffalo-style.
Neither Rogge nor McGrath, 28, started their careers as restaurateurs. Rogge, a UVA graduate, began his career in finance as an analyst, and McGrath, a VCU alumnus, started in commercial real estate.
“It wasn’t really for me,” McGrath said. “Right after I graduated in 2008, I was offered a job as assistant manager at Bar Management Group, so that’s when I made the decision to go into restaurants.”
McGrath worked at the recently closed Blackfinn in downtown Richmond and in other BMG restaurants in Washington. All the while, he and Rogge kept in touch, refining their vision of opening a place of their own.
Rogge did stints at the upscale Arlington restaurant Eventide and former Fan restaurant Six Burner while the pair developed their own concept. They looked at spaces downtown but decided on the Chesterfield location.
“When the space became available, we realized that it was a place where we had a familiar customer base right off the bat, which is a huge advantage starting out,” McGrath said.
Rogge and McGrath financed the restaurant through savings and investments from friends and family. The space was most recently a Mexican restaurant named Jalapenos.
“We spent a lot bringing what was here up to standard,” McGrath said. “The tables and chairs were here, but we did a lot of painting and bit of remodeling. We did have to buy about 99 percent of our kitchen equipment, including a customized smoker. It’s sweet.”