T.J. Stambaugh, an operating partner of Mission BBQ, looks over some of the hundreds of bumper stickers that will decorate the restaurant.
T.J. Stambaugh, an operating partner of Mission BBQ, looks over some of the hundreds of bumper stickers that will decorate the restaurant. (Bil Bowden photo)

Bill Kraus said there's nothing more American than a barbecue.

"And there's nothing more heroic than those who serve," he said.

That's why he and co-owner Steve Newton opened a chain of Mission BBQ restaurants in Maryland two years ago to give back to the men and women they call American heroes.

Their newest location will open at noon Monday, Nov. 18, in Maple Village Plaza at 970 Loucks Road in York City.

"We think, demographically, York matches very well with our brand," Kraus said.

That brand is one in which first responders are the first to dine at each new location, the food is never stored in freezers or cooked in microwaves, and a portion of the restaurant's profits go to charities of first responders and military organizations, he said.

"For all they do for us, we believe a portion of everything we do should go to fire and police charities, the USO, the Honor Flight Network, Toys for Tots and the Wounded Warrior Project," Kraus said.

Events: Mission BBQ will have three invitation-only events leading up to its grand opening:

---From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, the restaurant will host a fire department charity night.

---From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, the restaurant will host a police department charity night.

---From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, the restaurant will host a sneak peek benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.

"During those, 100 percent of the proceeds will go back to charities of the first responders' choice," Kraus said.

When the restaurant opens to everyone at noon Monday, Nov. 18, the national anthem will be sung before the doors open. And that will happen every day at noon in the restaurant.

"At all of our restaurants, everybody stops at noon to salute the flag, stand at attention, honor our country and sing the national anthem," he said.

Personal: Neither Kraus nor Newton served in the military, but Kraus said service to one's country is very personal to him.

His grandfather served in World War I, his father served in the Korean War, his oldest son, Andrew, served two tours of duty in the Marines and now works for the Wounded Warrior Project, and his younger son, Alex, is a freshman at the U.S. Naval Academy.

"Both my partner and I now have a chance to humbly serve by giving back to America's heroes," Kraus said.

They opened their first restaurant on Sept. 11, 2011, in Glen Burnie, Md.

"It was special. Ten years after the world changed, we wanted to change it back and make it better again," Kraus said.

The taste: They also wanted to make good barbecue.

"There's a scarcity of good barbecue in the mid-Atlantic states," he said.

Newton and Kraus traveled the country, searching for the best recipes, and their restaurants serve homemade family recipes daily.

Mission BBQ's menu includes Texas-inspired beef brisket, pulled pork, sausage, ribs, cornbread, baked beans, green beans with bacon, baked cheesy potatoes and more.

The York restaurant is Mission BBQ's fifth location and the first outside Maryland. The owners plan to open 40 more during the next five years throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina.

After it opens on Nov. 18, regular hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.