Growth 3 min read

Couple Turns Rough Start into a Barbecue Business Serving Their Community

They kept faith in each other and flourished.

(Photo: Cory and Tarra Davis)

A successful barbecue food truck business in Grand Rapids, Michigan rose from the near-death of a marriage.

In 2012, Cory and Tarra Davis were taking care of her mother, who had congestive heart failure, and her stepfather, who had dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

They had been married for less than a year.

He was a social worker for the state of Michigan, she was a church administrator, and they were stressed.

“The first year of marriage is supposed to be bliss, but we didn’t experience that,” says Cory.

“We didn’t have enough time to bond and connect. We were taking care of our parents, our child, and our household, but our marriage was coming last. We were headed to divorce.”

They prayed.

And then they went to work.

They worked on their marriage, re-setting priorities and leaning on peers for encouragement and challenge, determined not to be another broken marriage statistic.

They also went to work on a business.

When they got married, a family-owned business was not in their plans. But Cory loved to barbecue—and their friends and neighbors loved Cory’s barbecue, too.

Starting with a half-gas, half-charcoal smoker Tarra bought Cory for his birthday, Cory set a standard of excellence for his grilling. When their church hosted a barbecue competition, Cory entered – and won.

Demand ensued.

Tarra, who holds an MBA, produced a business and marketing plan while Pitmaster Cory worked out their menu. In 2014, their first year in business, they saw $75,000 in revenue and a nod from Grand Rapids Magazine as a Staff Pick in their “Best of Grand Rapids” issue.

Today Daddy Pete’s BBQ, LLC has 8 employees, a To-Go location that operates year-round, and a concession trailer for events in the city. They entered summer 2017 with over 200 bookings and growing traffic at the To-Go location, using their Facebook fanpage to keep their customers informed throughout each day as to daily offerings and when certain items—rib tips, smoked wings, Alaskan smoked salmon—are about to sell out.

Their business is popular and growing, and their slow-cooked ribs and hand-crafted sides regularly win awards. But Cory doesn’t want to be remembered for making great ribs.

“I want to be remembered for the impact,” Cory says, “providing work, helping families, and leaving a legacy that a business can be the way that you minister and serve the community.”

Rudy Carrasco is the US Regional Facilitator for Partners Worldwide. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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