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Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV , left, surprises Matt Shaffer on Tuesday with the announcement that Shaffer has been named Middletown's Citizen of the Year.

MIDDLETOWN — Shaffer’s BBQ & Market owner and Navy veteran Matthew Shaffer has been named Middletown’s Citizen of the Year.

On Tuesday afternoon, dozens of people gathered outside his restaurant at 8140 Valley Pike to surprise him with the news.

“Thank you all very much for coming out here,” Shaffer told the crowd. “This is very unexpected. It’s quite an honor.”

Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV described Shaffer as someone who “does a tremendous amount for the community, especially law enforcement and fire.”

Last year, Shaffer fed numerous service members free of charge. He also has held fundraisers for the town’s fire department and other community organizations.

“Matt Shaffer’s barbecue is a community magnet, but he’s made it that,” Harbaugh said. “People come to Middletown just to try his food. But he does so much for the community. He sponsors a Little League baseball team, he gives to countless fundraisers and nonprofits. Everybody hits him up for gift cards. … Matt has a ton of admirable qualities, most of which is how community-oriented he is.”

Shaffer’s family, going back to his grandfather, has been selling barbecued chicken in the Shenandoah Valley since 1952. In July 2016 Shaffer and his wife Julie bought and renovated a 1956-era gas station on Valley Pike and opened Shaffer’s BBQ & Market in Middletown.

His restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and supper while the market and general store feature local products, craft beer, meats and barbecue sauces.

“I’d like to say that when he first opened, Charles and I were probably the first customers that came in,” said Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland, who was among those who surprised Shaffer with the Citizen of the Year news. “And, you know, since then, he’s become a very good friend. You know, it’s a wonderful business to have in Frederick County. He’s always around anytime that anybody needs anything at all.”

Former Middletown Mayor Raymond Steele described Shaffer as “a brilliant young man that has brought forth a lot of energy to the town. He certainly tries in the best way he can, and I’m proud of him.”

Shaffer’s father, George Shaffer, was pleased with the recognition, saying his son had “worked hard” to get the business to where it is.

Middletown residents nominate people for Citizen of the Year and the Town Council gets to choose the winner. On Monday night, council unanimously selected Shaffer.

Harbaugh asked Shaffer to ride in the town’s Fourth of July Parade this year as Citizen of the Year. Shaffer will be officially recognized at 6:15 p.m. on July 4 in the town park.

Shaffer said the surprise of being named Citizen of the Year was “wonderful.”

“[Middletown] is such a cool little community,” he told The Winchester Star. “I think that’s the best part of it. It’s all about team and family.”

For more about Shaffer’s BBQ, visit:

— Contact Josh Janney at

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