BBQ Puppy Love
The party was happening at Morning Wood!
Boy how my perception of this whole business has changed over the years. Evidently I had plans for us to open a spot at the end of 2009. It actually took 5 years before we decided to do a brick and mortar. We also thought the brick and mortar would be an addition to the farmers market but that was a bust as well. Once we settled with four walls, the guys couldn't imagine dragging smoker, tents and whatnot hither an yon for the sake of bbq.
Fast forward to today. We opened our second location November 2015 and have hopes of a third. We have no plans to franchise but we want to spread good bbq a little further than the mom and pop stand we thought we would settle into.
With each new phase of Bigmista's I ask myself how did I get here?
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Here I sit finishing a revised quote for a party on the 17th wondering how I got here. By here I don't mean my desk. I mean a business owner of something I never even imagined. A business that is quickly growing to be a success.
We "officially" started Bigmista Barbecue I will say in November when we started our first farmer's market in Watts, Neil was cooking long before that though. I thought this would be something for him to do just because he loves to cook so much, so why continue to play. Let's make a little money at this.
The orignal plan was to do a couple of markets on the weekend and then try and expand within a year or two. If things took off then Neil would quit his job in August when Ashton, his son, turned 18. After working the really slow season, November/December, of the market we spoke to the market manager about maybe doing another. She put us in touch with the market manager at Atwater Village so we started there in mid- to late- January if I'm not mistaken.
Atwater turned out to be better then Watts on most days. When we had our first $400 day we were so excited we said hey lets add another. I called around to a few places to see if we could get in somewhere else. As it turned out Lawndale which I had contacted back in November and forgot about called us. The manager I called about a Friday market had no openings but said she could place us Tuesday morning in Torrance. Who eats barbecue in the morning. I'll tell you who in a later post.
It's still January and the discussion for us has turned to how soon will Neil quit his job. It was definitely before August. Well I spoke to the market manager at El Segundo who told me she already had a bbq person but they weren't happy and they weren't making any money. She said she would call if things changed. Well she called the beginning of February. After that Neil quit his job a week and a half later. We now consider a $400 day a slow day.
To give you more background as to why I ask how did I get here I majored in Finance, personal finance to be more precise. I wanted to help people manager their money. I do on a small scale, but my plan was to start a non-profit and show people how to manger their finances and stop living from paycheck to paycheck.
I always knew Neil's calling was food but I flat out told anyone who would listen I was not getting involved. I would also tell them how Neil always wants to cook the beans but he doesn't want to count them. Boy was I ever right, but that's for another entry.
So here I sit contemplating building a bbq empire and planning our next move. Wondering what the new smoker will look like and where will we get the money to open a spot by year's end. I'm surrounded by receipt books, quotes, purchase orders and the like. I applied to Mt. Sac so that I can take restaurant management classes. Hopefully I can get something online since most of the classes are during the day.
So please, come with me as I remember my past and plan our future on my journey from a barbecue widow to a... I don't know what.
Am I just being stubborn because I refuse to accept being part of the bbq world. I found a post I did back in 2009 saying BBQ is not my life and I start to question is that still true. I don't cook it but I fuss if it's not done right. I'm a certified KCBS Judge but I have serious mixed feelings when it comes to other folks and their Que. I know more about bbq but I still can't remember the point and flat on a brisket. And I for daggone sure won't do a bbq crawl unless Bigmista begs.
Anyway this is where I was 6 years ago and I don't think it's my life but it does make my life possible.
BBQ Is Not My Life
I'm having a bbq widow moment. My husband is in the bathroom listening to the BBQ Central Show. I know you're thinking TMI. It would be if he were using the facilities as intended. It's more like office time for him. He claims it's the only time he has any peace. But that's only if Morgan is occupied. She's not at the modesty stage yet.
They are talking about the new BBQ Pitmaster show that's coming to TLC. You would think after being in business (on paper) for over a year now I would have developed more of an interest in BBQ. Sadly, I still don't care. I do care about supporting my husband and eating good que but beyond that "miss me."
What makes most of this bearable is the satisfaction my husband gets for putting out a good product and hearing others rave about his food.
He received an email from a guy that came to the Torrance Farmer's Market today that made my chest swell with pride. Please allow me to share:
We met today at the Torrance Farmer's market. I was the guy that said he'd been looking for a good pork sandwich since Russ Wright's Pit BBQ in Orlando Fl went out of business in 1974 and you said "It's hard to compete with a memory." Well, you did and ... if you're not AS good .... you're AS CLOSE as it's been in 35 years of searching across 22 states. And when I say 22 states, I mean it -- let me tell you, when you're in Mississippi and you tell some guy that his pork isn't as good as you've had in Florida, you have to be serious about finding good food. Congratulations.
Russ and I became friends enough for him to tell me that he smoked his port over oak and hickory, to show me that you can't cut pork into slices unless it's raw, cold or very badly cooked ... and that his sauce was the key and he claimed that what made the difference was that he used actual hog lard as the base. Sadly, not friends enough to get the recipe which dies with him in 1974.
Anyway, you're at the top of my list for good BBQ and I'm not at all about chasing farmer's markets throughout the southland to be able to bring home a meal!
It is stuff like this that allows me to let him live his dream. That coupled with the fact that we beat out the big boys for Best BBQ in L.A. on MyFoxLA. Granted it would be much easier if he went back to a 9-5 but hell who wants easy.
My mom asked about our finances and I told her the truth. No I'm not sharing the details with ya'll (Paula Deen moment). She told my aunt I walk around like nothing's wrong. To me it isn't. Why worry about something I wouldn't change. Not that I want to, but if we have to tear our lives down to build it back up, so be it. As long as I'm the wife with benefits, I got this
I know, I know. The line between bbq widow and loving/supportive wife shifts, grays, fades, whatever. I need a drink.
In case you haven't heard, the smoker has landed... in Long Beach. We are happy to announce that Bigmista's Barbecue is becoming Bigmista's Barbecue & Sammich Shop. We know there is speculation of why we're not downtown but if you didn't hear it from us don't believe everything you hear or read.
Now as for our brick & mortar spot, we're taking a former bakery to a barbecue level. Which means our sammiches will rise to a new level because we're baking our own bread. We want to bring a uniqueness to our sammiches, so bare with us as we test out some recipes. Also, we're not lettuce and tomato kinda folx so don't ask. Now if you would rather have fillers and less meat, then hey, we can work that out for you.
We plan to stay true to the low-and-slow of it all but we also have fresh menu ideas coming up. So make sure you check back often as we roll out a little at time. We don't want to overwhelm y'all with our SMOKY-MANLINESS.
Oh and stay up to date with the new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BBQSammich.