Blessed by BBQ

One of the awesome aspects of a side hustle, is that it can look like anything!!!  In fact, it doesn’t even have to be YOUR side hustle!

One of “my” best side hustles is an opportunity that came about from a conversation I had with a friend.  Let me set the stage… I don’t know much about cooking barbeque (here’s my man-card back!) Sure, I can do burgers, dogs, and steak on a grill, no problem.  But when it comes to smoking meat, it is just not my wheelhouse. (Though one day I would like to get this one, this one, or this one!) However, I have a good friend who is AMAZING at it!!! He has a huge smoker and he LOVES smoking meat.  He has volunteered to smoke meat for community events and for multiple church events. The guy just loves it! And what comes out of his smoker can only be described as heavenly goodness…pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked chicken…oh man, I’m getting hungry!

Now, each year we have the Northwest Missouri State Fair take place in our little town of 3,000 people.  This fair brings in around 25,000 people. Two years ago, as the fair was approaching, my friend had this idea about serving his BBQ at the fair.  He had weighed the idea, but just saw too many obstacles to overcome, one of which was that the fair was only THREE WEEKS away!!! I had tasted his BBQ and deep in the pit of my hungry stomach, I knew it would be a hit.  Being the overly optimistic math nerd that I am, I began running numbers: how much the expenses might be, what a pulled pork plate would need to sell for, how many would need to be sold to break even, and different scenarios about how much could be made after the break even point.  

Sure enough, with three weeks to go, we decided to give it a go!  CRAZY!!!! We needed a menu, food, a way of taking money, tables, a booth, plates, sauce, drinks, signage, etc.  We had three weeks to “create” a business…AND actually prep the food!

Thankfully, the fair board had ONE spot left for a food vendor, and by the first day of the fair, we were up and running.  We had spent hours and hours trying to get this side hustle ready, and on day one, we were selling food. Over the next five days we hustled our tails off…and we had a blast!  His barbeque was the talk of the fair! We were just two local guys, loving on our community, and serving some of the best BBQ around. For me, I spent five days eating TOP QUALITY BBQ. I had it for lunch each day and enjoyed it for dinner each night.  Even my wife and kiddos stopped by and enjoyed a few meals.

So, how does a guy who doesn’t know anything about BBQ make an extra dollar selling BBQ?  He simply doesn’t go at it alone. I was in my wheelhouse…running numbers, overseeing logistics, planning advertising and marketing.  My friend was in his wheelhouse…smoking meat to perfection, loving on people passing by, being the Pit Master that he is.

By the end of the fair, we had covered ALL of our expenses and each made over $1000. Not a bad run for five days.  And though it was fun, it was hard work.  We were exhausted! As we closed up shop and tried to figure out where to put everything and what to do with the extra supplies that we overestimated on, in that moment we vowed, though it was profitable, we would NEVER to do the fair again!!!  

In year two we doubled our profits! HA!  [I guess vows are only good at weddings.]  And we doubled profits despite the fair being shut down 40% of the time due to rain!!!

As year three approaches, we’re excited, praying for good weather, and looking forward to another great week of selling quality food to the community we love so much…and making an extra dollar!

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