Failure was no longer an option. So, with the smoke rolling, I said a few prayers and set out on a new adventure. I am a pleaser by nature, so I wanted this first BBQ weekend to go off without a hitch. I needed to prove to Stacey that this could turn into something special and generate some income for our family, and I wanted to show David that we could not just bring a crowd of people but could also feed them all some incredible BBQ. I knew we needed to do something different than just offer pulled or chopped pork, which is what most people from Georgia would refer to as a BBQ sandwich. I wanted to change the narrative in our area and knew we could make our mark with beef brisket (To this day, brisket is still one of my favorite cuts to cook). The menu was set – we would do sandwiches with a side and sell BBQ by the pound. I decided to smoke briskets, pork butts & ribs. That way I could cook the briskets and butts overnight, get an early start, drive the smoker over to 3 Peas, and then get the ribs going. We had mac n cheese, jalapeno cilantro slaw, and chips as sides. I knew that we wanted that cherry wood smoke rolling out of the pull-behind all day! The smell is just intoxicating as the smoke hits the seasoned meat and it immediately grabs your attention.
Our friends and family showed up huge! It was so awesome seeing everyone that came out to support this crazy venture. I can still see all the smiles and hear the buzz of excitement. There was a huge line from the moment we started. We ended up selling out just after lunch and I was a bit worried as that was one of David’s main concerns. I hesitantly went inside to break the news to him, but thankfully, he was all smiles and quick to ask if we could come back out the following weekend. He was excited as so many new people who came out to visit us also went inside and loaded up on veggies and firewood. That was when I really knew we were on to something special. Now it was time to get licensed and think through how I could still do insurance during the week and BBQ on the weekend. Getting legit was quite a process. I needed a commercial kitchen to work out of before I could get licensed and insured. I found a local shared kitchen (It’s a licensed commercial kitchen that is inspected by the health department and allows multiple different food businesses to operate out of. They rent you hours that you can use each month along with some shelving space to store ingredients) and signed a 1-year agreement. This allowed me to get liability insurance and we were off and running.
While I was pumped with the way the first event turned out, I was a little concerned about how we were going to draw a crowd each weekend. Some of our family and friends that came out the first time drove quite a way, and I knew that they wouldn’t be able to make that trek every week. I needed something catchy each week to put on Facebook to draw attention. So, each week I created a new sandwich special to post. We had everything from a huge pulled pork or brisket sandwich topped with jalapeno cilantro slaw and fried onions to the “Rockin RyeDog”, which was a smoked prime rib sandwich with all the fixin’s. Every weekend we had a line and sold out. Thankfully, I had so many friends and family that would step in and help each weekend so we could handle the crowds. Stacey was a rock star working the register. I’m surprised we made any money as she always wanted to give everything away. My buddy Damyn Swanepoel and brother-in-law Thor Grenier were always willing to lend a hand, and are both still involved with the business today (can’t wait to do a post on working with family and friends).
I learned so much in the early days. It only took about 3 months to learn that having a food license isn’t the same as having a mobile service permit. Apparently, we created quite a buzz in the 3 ½ months that we sold BBQ at the produce stand. That’s about how long it took for a local restaurant to make a call to the health department. I looked into getting a mobile service permit after the call with David but found it to be too expensive and it didn’t seem like a good option while this was still a part-time gig. The best part of selling at the produce stand was the brand awareness. We were able to introduce our flavors to so many new people in the area. God’s timing was perfect. Catering requests really started flowing in around the time we were shut down at the stand. That’s when I knew we had something special and we needed to find a place to call our own. That’s when we came across the shack…