Pitmasters: Ron Whyte & Bob Edmond
Address: 625 University Ave • St. Paul, MN • 55104 Website: www.bigdaddysbbq-stpaul.com Owners: Manuel Tacuri and Yolanda Plaza, and Founders: Ron Whyte, Bob Edmond, and Gene Sampson
Thirty years ago, friends Ron Whyte, Bob Edmond, and Gene Sampson spent days having friendly BBQ cook offs in the park, in competition with one another to find the best combination of flavors. They collectively came up with something amazing, and people started to notice. They began to sell their hickory-smoked ribs, and Big Daddy’s Barbeque quickly emerged.
In 1993, Gene Sampson came through NDC’s first ever entrepreneur training class with Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, in which he wrote a business plan for the fast expanding Big Daddy’s Barbeque. As owners Ron and Bob advise, “Before you start a business, make sure you realize how much you have to put into it to make it work. It’s more than cooking. You have to become an expert in all things you never thought about before.” With ongoing assistance and loans from NDC for equipment, Big Daddy’s grew their business, and thirty years later they are a staple business in the community. They have always supported the surrounding neighborhoods and hired locally, currently employing four people.
Two and a half years ago, to keep up with city health codes, Big Daddy’s moved their outdoor operation indoors to one of NDC’s Small Business Incubators, Frogtown Entrepreneur Center. The cooking process had to be adapted, and the three pit masters worked tirelessly to replicate their traditional smokehouse process. After much tweaking, the culinary artists arrived at the perfect indoor process that has won them high accolades, including Best of BBQ from City Pages.
“You gotta grow. You must be able to change and change for the better… …NDC has been tremendous.”
Pit Masters: Bob Edmond, Ron Whyte, and Gene Sampson (not pictured) and Best of BBQ from Mpls/St Paul Magazine, among many others.
They now face another major obstacle: their storefront is currently in the heart of the construction zone for the Central Corridor Light Rail Line. They’ve lost 70% of their parking and have limited access to their storefront. Though customers have been loyal, Big Daddy’s has had to make changes to offset the loss in business. They’ve expanded the catering side of their business, and have been working with U7, the NDC- hosted collaborative that helps businesses on the Light Rail line survive the construction season. The U7 team has helped Big Daddy’s establish an online presence, including building a website and getting them active on Facebook and Twitter – things that have proved to be extremely helpful to their business. U7 has also helped with way-finding signs, directing traffic to the temporary access points to Big Daddy’s and other surrounding businesses. While the obstacles have been at times overwhelming, the three owners have done all they can possibly do to overcome them. “You gotta grow. You must be able to change and change for the better……NDC has been tremendous.”
Neighborhood Development Center www.ndc-mn.org • 651.291.2480
663 University Ave, Suite 200
Saint Paul, MN 55104