Monday, August 27, 2007

Temporary Website

Yeah...........if there is one thing I have and am still kicking myself for is not uploading some sort of web presence during the past year. Its one of those things I knew I needed to get done but just never got around to having someone do it. The site that is up now is just temporary, I am having a permanent one designed right now to be ready in the next month or so. Katie "All-Star" Walker is doing all the graphic design/art and my good buddy Mike Causey is building it for me. They are both awesome at what they do and I'm thankful for the work and job they are doing for me. The spot on 104.5 started this morning, it sounded good. Some minor changes need to be made but overall is went well. Here is the site:

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Week has been really good and really steady! We ain't missed a beat since Marteen left. I hired another guy (Gonzalo). He's about 45, legal, and has about 20 years restaurant experience. We'll see how he hangs in there. I'm letting Bo have the day off today, so I'll be on the line tonight.........I've missed that hell and chaos.......I'm looking forward to it! Had to truck down to Chattanooga yesterday to see my bookkeeper and do my payroll quarterly taxes. My "Freudian" buddy Jim Owens wife Jennifer does them for me. Things are looking good, the business is making money and all that........but we've got to cut some costs, specifically Cost of Goods Sold. We're spending at least 10% too much here. I'm tracking all individual sales of each menu item and putting the info in to a spreadsheet. Have about 3 or so weeks worth right now, another couple of weeks or so and I'll look at that info and put it to use, such as updating the menu. Plan on nixing some a couple of things that we ain't selling much of. I'll still keep them around but only on the "specials" menu. Probably gonna raise some prices too, such as brisket to reflect rising market prices. Beef prices have really risen a lot in the past 6 months and because of certain market conditions (commodity prices, supply/demand, drought) I think they will continue to rise, at the very least hang where they are now. Plus most places around here are getting $4.50 or more for a regular sandwich and we're still asking $3.50, so we're just bringing it to where to local market is anyway. The Titans looked good last that the same Chris Brown that used to play for us?????? I mean, he doesnt even look like the same player! He's playing like a quicker Eddie George. Thank the good Lord above that Football is here! In the next few weeks or so I need to get on a Trout stream somewhere. Hell, its almost time to get those guns out of the closet and get to cleanin' them up! This is the best time of year.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

2nd Pit has been ordered....sponsoring Titans 104.5 show.

Well Tuesday I pulled the trigger on another Pit. I ordered the same Pit I have now at the Joint, which is an Ole Hickory. There are weeks/days when we have been beyond capacity and it has been a real stress figuring out how to get everything cooked we need to get cooked. In regards to the restaurant we are fine. There have been a few weeks where I'm sitting there on Thursday night a little worried how I'm going to get everything cooked for the next couple of days, but generally cooking for just the Joint has not been a problem. The problem arises when the catering orders start to come in. We have done absolutely zero marketing on catering (we've really done zero marketing all together). So just the little bit we've got coming in has pushed our capacity beyond the limit. I went ahead and ordered the pit now because starting next week we will be the official sponsor of the 104.5 Titans Insider Kevin Mawae show (he's the starting center for the Titans for those of you reading this that are out of town) on Monday mornings during drive time from 7:10 - 8:00. The lead in will be something along the lines of:
"The Kevin Mawae Show sponsored by Martin's Bar-B-Que"
This is This is a great spot for us on the #1 rated radio show in the city during a prime time.......I mean every 9 to 5er in the city is on the road at that time heading in to work, and its on Mondays the day after each game. So I'm really looking for a real pick-up in catering & tailgating packages.....We'll see. More borrowed money means more stress. I had to take out an additional $15,000 loan (over 24 months) for the thing and I'm hoping that will cover it, but then again that might not cover everything I'm looking to get done. It might/could total about $20,000 when its all said and done, depending on other things I'd like to do to it. Anything over and above the loan amount I'll just pay for out of pocket. I'll be setting it up like a competition pit and/or catering trailer. Much like the Peg Leg Team Pit, I'm going to mount this thing on my old bob-cat trailer (which is almost brand new), a 20ft. trailer with a 3 well sink, prep table and double fridge. There will be a roof on it. Im hoping I can pay Dresch to do the work for me, we're supposed to meet up today. I'm hoping to have this thing built and finished in the next 3-4 weeks. I'm not all that excited about taking out the additional money to get it. I've been pretty proud at paying off what I have in this short of time. I have plenty of room in my current line of credit, but i did not want to put 15 grand back on top of what I've already paid off. Also, I am keeping the two lines of business separate so I can track each one separately. I may not be all that happy about borrowing additional money, but I'm happy about putting this thing to work for me, we just have to really step up the catering to get this big whore paid for. I'm also hoping and looking forward to this helping the team (Peg Leg Porkers) out at future bbq competitions, once we really start to get involved in those things.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Well last week was a long week. Wednesday my uncle Olen died. He and I were very close so that was tough. We buried him on Saturday morning. Then about 7:45 Saturday night while taking my grandparents home I was wondering how everything was going at the Joint - not 2 minutes later Bo calls to tell me that he and Marteen got into it and Marteen quit, right in the middle of dinner rush. Let me tell you right here right now that is NOT what I wanted to hear. If for any reason just because of the wrench it throws into the wheel. I wont go into the whole problem but for right now it may be for the best. He is a great guy and has become and will remain a great friend, but I think he was getting burned out. He was starting to slip, starting to miss things. That ain't Marteen. He was clocking about 60 hours a week, which is what he wanted but I'm guessing that had something to do with it. 60 hours a week in a little kitchen will take a toll on you. So, now I'm looking at two other Mexican guys to take his place. The upside is they are both legal. The downside is they both have jobs and I dont know if I can get them or not. We're going to be o.k., I mean there was a time not too long ago that it was just Bo and I slinging it out. I've got some good part time help that can fill in and between Me, Bo, Chocho & Emily we'll be fine Lord willing. I imagine that sometime in the future Marteen and I will work together again, I hope like hell that happens. We'll stay buddies and we'll stay in touch and I'll help him anyway I can (This week we are supposed to meet with this accountant to pay his income taxes from 2006, and I plan on still helping him with that). I think that for right now though this is good for both sides. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Powers that be

You know, I'm not one to ever get "star struck" by being around celebrities. I've never understood peoples fascination with it. I mean who cares? That autograph you are getting, what are you really going to do with it? I mean, sorry if this is crude but, they wipe their butt just like you and I do. Thats one reason I have not gotten celebrities to autograph pictures to go on the wall inside the joint, because its tough for me to throw my pride to the side and "lower" myself to get their John Hancock.................-although I will admit right here right now that I will probably start to do so because for some reason it is good marketing, and if I can make a buck off their signature then yeah. All that being said I still and will never be awed by someone else's celebrity status, but the other night we were asked to cater a small party and it was pretty cool to meet some of these men. The big difference here was that I was honored, not awed by them. On Tuesday night we catered the Nashville Amateur Chefs Club, which is really just a social club for a bunch of CEO's & politicians. Specifically in attendance were all three living ex-Governors of our state, Winfield Dunn, Ned McWherter and Don Sundquist along with other CEO's, Judges, etc.. This organization has been around since 1946 and their are only 30 members. They asked me to come in to cater the meal and give a speech (yes you read that right) on the history and science of Barbecue. It was in a very small room with three tables set up for dining. We served Brisket, 1/4 chickens, pulled pork along with cornbread, baked beans and slaw. Mom baked 3 coconut cakes and 4 pecan pies. Everything went very, very well. They were all very happy and we got a ton of compliments. They all took my cards and menus and I'm hoping that in the future we'll see some additional catering come from it. They were all as nice as they could be. I've got to get to the joint but later on I'll try to post the speech if I can figure out how to do it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Last Week

Last week went very well........we only had one small catering job and still did pretty well for the week. We've got some catering jobs coming up, so that should help with the bottom line. Thats all I have to say about things right now. I am at my desk, with a second glass of wine, listening to Jimmy Buffet's "A Pirate Looks At 40". I am going to enjoy the song and then go to bed.

Monday, August 13, 2007 awards

We were recently voted second in the category of "best family friendly dining" in Nashville by online voters at in the Sky came in first, we came in second and Jim-N-Nicks BBQ came in 3rd. Famous Daves came in 10th. If you read this and voted, well thanks very much! I wasnt even aware that we were in a category to be voted on so this is great news! Other towns have more specific categories such as best BBQ. I guess Nashville ain't big time enough yet so we only get the broad categories.............why can't the ville' ever get any national respect?!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

So you want to open a restaurant...........

.............then make sure you get somebody to work for you that knows how to run a kitchen - that is assuming of course that you, like me, had never even been in one......I just give thanks to God above that he granted me the intelligence to know that cooking the product is not enough, you've got to have someone to logistically map out the lunch/dinner rush. Today is the one year anniversary of our hiring of Wiley "Bo" Collier. I (admittedly) had no real idea what I was doing when I decided to open this place up. All I knew was that A: I didnt have much money, B: I knew I my BBQ was good and that I could cook a little, and that C: I was starting a new career as a restaurant owner, of which statistics tell you that you are an absolute dumb-ass for choosing that field of entrepreneurship (89% of all new restaurants go under in 6 months). The thing that is so funny is that the night I hired Bo I was in a bar (the old Radio Cafe) in east Nashville on a friday night at like, 9:30 at night. Being in that place at that time is about as common as me being in Key West in a loin cloth, pump heels with Elvis glasses dancing to Elton John. To make it even more unreal is that 2 of the guys with me (Ball & Lamb) were there also. I mean, if any of you even know us slightly then you know what I'm talking about. Now I'm not by any means taking a shot at east Nashville, I love it! The point I'm making now is that being in a bar at 9:30 at night is rare for me. I'm at a stage in life where I really like a couch, T.V. and a remote control - thats a great feeling. It was just so freakin' random for us to be there! At any rate, the only reason we were there was to support Ward Boone. I had promised him I'd come hear him out. -Hell......I'm not going to go through the whole story again, if you want to read it then just scroll down this blog to 08/09/06 and read it there, but it is really incredible that the first guy I thought about hiring ended up being one of the most reliable, lovable, foxhole bastards I've ever met in my life. Bo was there in the first few months when we'd get there at 8:00 in the morning and leave at 1:30-2:00 at night. For the first 2 months it was just he and I. I could write all night long about stories from the first couple-3 months of the start of this joint. He was there last August when I was building the place out. He was the one that helped me screw, glue, saw, hang, measure, screw-up, nail, paint.........whatever it was he was there long before we opened the doors. When I wanted 76 things on the menu, it was Bo that reeled me in. When I went to pick up "Mrs. Hattie" (the pit) it was Bo who drove with me to get her. We've cussed each other in the rush, only to laugh over a beer at the end of the night. It was Bo that I almost shot outside my house with a .45 ruger one night (loaded, cocked). If I had farted that gun would have gone off. I've got a lot of buddies but there are only a few that I can really say these types of things about. I mean, this is a "Bryan Chandler" type of effort I'm talking about here.........thats saying a lot! The good Lord has really blessed us, there is so much to come and we're by no means out of the woods yet.......but Bo's commitment and work ethic has been like manna from heaven..........and how ever high this BBQ joint/pirate ship takes me in the definition of success, so shall I drag his "dread-neck" ass right up there with me. Thanks Bo-cephus.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Its late coming, but here is the Brewmasters Dinner

Sorry this is so late coming but here is the update on the brew masters dinner last Friday night. They've been having this thing at other places around town and usually only get a small meal and a choice of two beers. Can you imagine that? The brew masters dinner and you are only allowed to try two different beers? So Linus Hall, owner & brew master of Yazoo Brewery here in Nashville decided that it sucked and this year he would have it at his brewery in the courtyard area. His brewery is located in the old industrial building that manufactured Nashville only car, the Marathon Automobile Co.. Its a really cool building with tons of character. We went down on Thursday night and built a brick pit. I had a 3' by 4' steel griddle made for events like this. We cooked brisket tacos and the BBQ shrimp burritos. We had a blast and I think everyone there had a good time. Lord willing I look forward to doing it again next year!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

News Channel 4 spot.....

News Channel 4's Terry Bulger came out yesterday to do a spot on us for this mornings newscast. It was on this morning and it was pretty cool. We got quite a crush for lunch today because of it so I am very thankful for that! I am going to attempt to link it here but you know I've screwed that up in the past, so in case I screw it up again go to their website and check out the video section. Here it is:

It was a really nice piece and Terry is a really cool guy, I'm hoping he'll come back in to share an Old Style beer with me.

What is this Blog???

You ever been sitting around cooking for your family and friends and been told the following: "Hoss, this is the best I've ever had in my dadgum have got to open up a place of your own". The thought crosses your mind to do just that, but for whatever reason you dont. Well I'm "that" guy that actually went through with it and did it. I had absolutely ZERO restaurant experience! I decided to start this blog about my own experience hoping that it may be of some use and help to others who might be interested in opening their own place.
I learned this craft almost 20 years ago cooking whole hogs on brick & cinder block pits at a couple of little BBQ Joints in Henderson, TN. I learned from old, lifelong career Pit-Masters, working with them as an apprentice during school off and on for four years. Over the course of that time I learned the old, time-honored craft of REAL pit barbecue. At Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint I am trying as hard as I can everyday to bring that time-honored authenticity to my customers.
As you read you'll see I've made some stupid decisions, and I've made some good decisions. If you are thinking of opening a restaurant, especially a BBQ Joint, read this blog! Maybe some of this info can be of use to you. At the very least you will be entertained because I pull no punches.
Now listen, this is my blog to not only help with information but my blog to freely rant about my day to day experiences. There is no real "bad language" on this blog but there might be some things said that are very "tongue in cheek". If you are easily offended and/or cant see the satire in my posts then please just leave the blog. It will save both of us the annoyance of each other. For those of you who do like satire and are looking for good information about this experience, then by all means enjoy!