Darren Warth
Darren Warth

In my last blog, I told you how we got started in competition barbecue, and how that experience led us into the restaurant business. We believe two factors have helped us be successful. First, the quality of our food is a very high priority. With Shad being a chef, the quality of our side dishes is excellent and we pay close attention to detail when it comes to our barbecue, too. Competition chefs have to be very precise in terms of meat temperatures and food quality, so that philosophy spilled over into the restaurant side of the business.

Second, from a business standpoint, I knew how to run an overall business. At Ruan, I was responsible for a $250 million budget, so starting a barbecue business was not going to be a difficult endeavor. My wife has the accounting skills so she does the bookkeeping. Shad runs the kitchen and Shad’s wife Angie, has great customer-service skills so she handles the front. Everybody has their own niche.

Learning Process
I won’t sugar-coat it though. It was tough when we first started, because everybody did everything and we all shared one office. But when we got to the present location, we had a division of skills. If there is a front-of-the house issue, Angie is going to deal with it. If there is something associated with the overall direction of the business, they’re going to come to me; if there is something wrong in the kitchen they’re going to talk to Shad; and anything related to bookkeeping is Sherri’s responsibility. It was kind of the “perfect marriage,” if you will, because we all brough different skill sets to the table. We didn’t plan it that way going in – it just worked out.

Success in the barbecue business doesn’t mean that it’s all about the barbecue. Like any business, we needed to have the right people in the right spot and we were fortunate to have those people. In my next blog, I’ll tell you about our business as it is in 2014.