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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 03-10-2020, 10:49 AM   #3331
bbqdude65
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Jeremy, just one question: after the last 7 years, would you do it all again knowing what you know now and what the investment would be?
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:25 AM   #3332
marubozo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbqdude65 View Post
Jeremy, just one question: after the last 7 years, would you do it all again knowing what you know now and what the investment would be?
Good question. Since this is my second time around, and have learned so much from the past venture, and have put many changes into place to try to make this location even better, it's certainly been a little easier. But it's still by far the most difficult thing I've ever done.

The physical, mental, and financial demands an operation like this requires is beyond what any book or personal advice someone can give you. That's the one thing that would make me question doing it again. It's just simply not easy. There's no way to sugar coat it. But the rewards can make it still worthwhile.

There's something to be said about being a small operation, working solo or with a very small staff, and maybe being open just a few days a week. I think that might be the sweet spot where you can still do what you love without killing yourself and possibly make a decent little living out of it. Now that I'm in the realm of managing 20+ employees, seeing thousands of customers every month, and into the seven-figure revenue scenario, this isn't your backyard BBQ anymore.

Doing this kind of volume while having your finger on the pulse and making sure every piece of food that comes out of your kitchen is damn near perfect, every single day, will put anyone's mental toughness to the test.

Would I do it again? Probably. But I am getting older and I'm already starting to think about what it's going to be like ten years from now. Maintaining this into my 50s? It won't be easy for sure.
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Old 03-10-2020, 01:28 PM   #3333
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Well, that's why i was asking. Because, i am in my 50's. I had to cash out what retirement I had to start the business that I'm in just to get by after been fired from a promising position. As I look down the road, BBQ is what I really want to do - I just don't know if I want to scale it to the level you went.



Hindsight is always 20/10; 30 years ago, I didn't even think that BBQ would be an option...now that I'm facing my last 10-15 working years I don't want to waste them - I just need to be practical and determine what level I want to do this. I am catering a 150 person wedding in May. That should give me some level of interest.
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Old 03-10-2020, 02:17 PM   #3334
marubozo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbqdude65 View Post
Well, that's why i was asking. Because, i am in my 50's. I had to cash out what retirement I had to start the business that I'm in just to get by after been fired from a promising position. As I look down the road, BBQ is what I really want to do - I just don't know if I want to scale it to the level you went.



Hindsight is always 20/10; 30 years ago, I didn't even think that BBQ would be an option...now that I'm facing my last 10-15 working years I don't want to waste them - I just need to be practical and determine what level I want to do this. I am catering a 150 person wedding in May. That should give me some level of interest.
Yeah, get some catering like that under your belt and it will quickly help you determine if it's something you'd like to do on a more permanent basis.

I'm kind of the opposite in that regard. Catering is where a lot of the money is, yet it's my least favorite part of this whole business, which is odd when I talk to most people.

Me, I love the restaurant aspect. Creating a unique space and environment for the public to enjoy and all of that. With that comes all sorts of added overhead and headaches that you don't necessarily have with catering, but to me, walking through your packed dining room on a Friday night and just seeing and listening to everybody smiling and laughing and having such a good time enjoying something you've created from scratch is one of the most rewarding things in the world and makes up for those extra headaches.
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Old 03-10-2020, 03:27 PM   #3335
bbqdude65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marubozo View Post
Me, I love the restaurant aspect. Creating a unique space and environment for the public to enjoy and all of that. With that comes all sorts of added overhead and headaches that you don't necessarily have with catering, but to me, walking through your packed dining room on a Friday night and just seeing and listening to everybody smiling and laughing and having such a good time enjoying something you've created from scratch is one of the most rewarding things in the world and makes up for those extra headaches.

That makes perfect sense. I do derive joy from folks eating what I have created. However, I find more satisfaction when what I have done is positively referred to someone else...that validation that what you have done is thought of enough that they will refer you to their friends. In essence, they are putting their name on the line for your name.

This has been a most enjoyable read and thank you for replying. I will likely pm you other questions to keep from taking up board space.
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Old 03-15-2020, 10:17 PM   #3336
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Remember when they said it would be fun to own your own BBQ restaurant? Remember that chapter in the book about how to deal with a pandemic? Oh yeah, I don't remember that one either...

The past 72 hours have been unscripted to say the least. It's very real, and very serious.
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Old 03-15-2020, 11:27 PM   #3337
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^^^Yeah I saw the thread back on the page, saw you'd posted, and thought "oh chit..." Hope things are going as well as they can.

This thread is in the "Iliad and the Odyssey" category by now!
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Old 03-16-2020, 10:35 AM   #3338
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Just got the call. We are required to close to dine-in service throughout the rest of March. It's going to be an interesting few weeks.
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Old 03-16-2020, 10:42 AM   #3339
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Same thing we got yesterday in Taxachusetts....No eat in at any establishment or bars.
Take out food only.
This is gonna hurt a lot of businesses! Good luck Jeremy!
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Old 09-16-2020, 04:39 PM   #3340
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I'm almost afraid to ask....how are things?
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Old 10-04-2020, 09:10 AM   #3341
marubozo
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Funny looking back to my post in March saying it would be an interesting few weeks... and here we are in October.

I guess it's fair to provide you guys an update during these unprecedented times. I could write a whole book on the past few months alone. It's been something else. But, I'm still here. Hanging in there, slinging BBQ to the best of my ability.

So, a brief overview since we left off in March. I ended up closing down completely for a while shortly after all the restrictions went into place in March. We thought it would just be a short-term thing, let it play out, and get back to business. Obviously that wasn't the case. So, after closing and having some time to regroup, I began opening once or twice a week for flash BBQ events. Rather than try to limp along and staff a restaurant seeing only 20% of usual volume, we just cooked a whole bunch of food on one day, promoted the hell out of it, and sold everything in a matter of hours. It was great. I'd have lines stretched around the block.

This worked fairly well for almost two months. It allowed me to get most of my staff off payroll and they could get their unemployment and stimulus, and we could make enough each week to keep the lights on. Of course, the novelty of this model waned after a few months, and with no end in sight on re-opening restaurants to full capacity anytime soon, we opted to open at a limited capacity for carry out only. So, opened on weekend for carry out.

This also did ok since we already had a large carry out business to begin with, but customers dining behaviors changed across the board, so sales still took a significant hit during this.

Remember that food truck I bought right before all this hit the fan? Yeah, all our events for the summer for that got canceled. Hindsight is 20/20, never should have bought that thing this year. But, all wasn't completely lost. We hooked up with the Mishawaka farmer's market and set up our truck every sunday there. Then did some food truck friday events, and we're hooking up with a local craft beer bar to do some events, so we're starting to get some money out of that thing.

Now that the market is over for the year, we're slowly ramping back up to a pre-covid schedule here at the store wednesday through sunday. Sales are still down roughly 50% from this time last year. Part of it is football catering, or lack thereof. ND has had to postpone a game, and there's not really any tailgating going on, so those big fall weekend orders are a lot slimmer than they used to be.

Also, we have not reopened the dining room to full capacity yet. Partly because Indiana is not clear. Last week they allowed restaurants to open at full capacity, but you still have to maintain 6 foot distancing. Well, restaurant capacity isn't designed with 6' distancing in mind, so how can you say full capacity yet if you do that you're violating the 6' rule? We spoke to the health department and they don't have an answer. They said it's up to the inspectors own interpretation... *insert massive eyeroll here*

So because our dining room is so small and we do often have a line for carry out, we're opting to just have a few limited tables for guests to sit down to eat if they want, but we no longer have servers or table service. Which also sucks because we spent all that money and redid a full bar, and have not been able to utilize it one bit.

This slow time has allowed me to experiment a bit more. I've been doing some interesting stuff like smoking cow heads for barbacoa, I bought a goat from a farmer and smoked a whole goat, done lamb, making things like gyros, gazpacho, even made our own hot dogs one weekend, etc. So that part has been refreshing.

Needless to say, on a personal note, the stress of the business with all this covid stuff going on, I got extremely burned out and had a bit of a breakdown earlier this summer. It was just too overwhelming. So, I got the hell out of here for a week and I went to Alaska on vacation. All by myself, just to get as far away from people and the restaurant as I could. It had been years since I truly went on vacation, and it was so greatly needed. It was an amazing trip. I'm back, refreshed, and trying to get things back up to speed but it's still a long road ahead.

Oh, and I stayed open until 1am last night doing the annual pub crawl here. Not the best idea. The idiots kind of trashed the place, and found out this morning someone stole a brisket off the smoker at some point last night. I mean come on man...
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Old 10-04-2020, 09:18 AM   #3342
marubozo
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Here's the goat:



Also, when we were closed down, I started a fundraiser #PPBBQrelief to feed BBQ to area frontline workers. Customers could make a donation, and we'd put their name and a heart in our store window. We raised enough money with this fundraiser to feed hundreds of area police officers, firefighters, healthcare workers, grocery store employees, etc. That was pretty cool.

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Old 10-04-2020, 05:40 PM   #3343
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Would love to hear more about the goat smoking process.
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Old 10-04-2020, 05:59 PM   #3344
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Mmm.. Love goat! Never done a whole one, just legs & pieces.
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Old 10-04-2020, 06:55 PM   #3345
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Man, my heart goes out to you, your family, and staff, Jeremy. Major, major respect for the way you have handled it and kept afloat.
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