Growing up in Glenelg, he and his older brother, Sean, would scarf down whatever food their mom, Regina, cooked.
As the two boys got older and started wrestling and playing football, the amount of food they needed required more than just mom’s cooking.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been the hound at the table eating all the food,” said Austin Twigg, 24. “Two big boys playing football and wrestling all year, she went through a lot of food. The older I got, the more I think my mom just showed me how to make food so she didn’t have to cook for me all day. But I really enjoyed cooking with her because it was time I got to spend with her.”
Now, about a decade after his mom taught him to cook, Twigg and his dad, Bob, have opened a pizza shop together in Glenelg, with Austin Twigg as the main chef. Gladiators Pizza and Deli, located at 3900 Ten Oaks Road, opened Feb. 14.
“This is truly a hometown pizza shop,” said Bob Twigg, 62. “This is a family-owned business, and everyone in the family is involved. And the community has been so great since we opened. People have been coming out in droves. They’ve supported us, and that’s been the best part of this.”
Gladiators Pizza replaces Ashton’s Pizza & Deli, which closed last summer after the owner decided to sell.
The location has always been a pizza shop. Before Ashton’s, it was Tri Pizza & Subs and, before that, MD’s Pizza.
After Austin Twigg graduated from Glenelg High School in 2015, he started working as a chef at Ashton’s.
“I worked in the kitchen there for five years,” he said. “I really grew a passion for it. I love working on my feet all day and doing things with my hands. I enjoy getting in there all day and making food I like and serving it to people I’ve known my whole life, and I’m glad I get to continue doing that.”
When he saw his son’s passion for cooking, Bob Twigg wanted to help Austin Twigg get started in the restaurant business, especially during a difficult time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Austin wants to be a chef,” Bob Twigg said. “This place is a good fit because it’s a mile and a half down the road, he knows the area and he knows all the people. He’s worked in this establishment prior to us buying it, so it seems like the right way to get him on the path of what he wants to do and be successful.”
Bob Twigg purchased the location, originally built in 1984, in August, and they spent the next six months remodeling and renovating.
“It’s a totally new place now,” he said.
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Bob Twigg has lived in Glenelg since the early 1990s. The Twigg family, he said, has been in Maryland “forever.” His family’s house in Twiggtown, Maryland — in Allegany County about 10 miles east of Cumberland — was built in 1768.
He’s been a business owner for multiple decades, and his main business is Conquest Technologies, a telecommunications delivery company he started in 2002. All three of the Twigg children were athletes at Glenelg High. Sean and Austin were accomplished wrestlers and played on the football team; his daughter, Katie, was a member of Glenelg’s state champion girls basketball team in 2016.
It’s not surprising, then, why they named the restaurant Gladiators Pizza after Glenelg High’s mascot. They hope to seize on the shop’s athletic roots by selling pizza at local sporting events and having recreational teams come to the restaurant after their practices and games.
“You go by the park in the spring and summer and fall, the fields out there are filled with rec sports,” Bob Twigg said. “What a great thing for a coach or a parent after a game to come down and get some pizza and ice cream for the kids.”
Ashton’s was mostly used for carryout, they said, but Gladiators Pizza has dine-in, carryout, online ordering and delivery options. Bob Twigg said the community is most excited about delivery, since Western Howard County doesn’t have as many delivery options as the rest of the county.
“Most of the people who came in said they’re so happy the pizza place is back and that they finally have a place they can call and get some food,” he said. “Places like Grubhub don’t service us out here; it’s too far for them.”