bbq bus

BBQ Bus on the Streets of D.C.

More than 5-years ago, Che Ruddell-Tabisola and his partner Tadd launched the BBQ Bus in Washington, D.C., with a mission to share their passion for great food and good times with friends. But this teams half-decade journey to business success wasn’t without its share of challenges along the way.

Che and Tad operated the BBQ Bus while simultaneously holding down full-time jobs for the first three months of the business. The pair took advantage of evenings and weekends to take advantage of weekend catering events and began forming partnerships with local businesses during this time period. After a few months, working a full-time job became unsustainable and was prohibiting the business from taking on more catering work and growing. With their business concept validated, Che and Tadd went all-in on their business idea.

In today’s featured interview, we get the opportunity to speak with Co-Founder of DC’s BBQ Bus, Che Ruddell-Tabisola to learn more about their story and advice for launching a successful food startup.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Che’s professional experience in politics have been helpful in operating a food truck.
  • How Che and his partner started their BBQ business “on the side” while both working corporate jobs.
  • Why finding a purpose and meaningful labor was so important to these founders.
  • Ways Che was able to overcome initial funding rejections from banks and credit card companies.
  • History on the back-drop of the modern food truck movement and how the recession served as a catalyst to this.
  • How the BBQ Bus conducted their recipe development process with an in-house commercial kitchen.
  • Why the BBQ Bus founders list their previous failures on their kitchen wall as motivation and on-going reminder to push forward.
  • The importance of diversifying revenue sources from day one.
  • How BBQ Bus worked out mutually beneficial relationships with bars that didn’t serve food.
  • How Yelp has been so essential to generating catering business for the BBQ Bus.
  • Ways to come up with your own unique style of BBQ.


bbq plate

Awesome BBQ Plate.

Quotes from the Show

In the history of our country street vending has always been a way for folks without a lot of means to carve a path for upward economic and social mobility. – Che Ruddell-Tabisola on the roots of mobile vending. 

This new modern food truck movement has presented opportunities for folks pursuing their second or third careers and that’s a lot of the vendors we see out in D.C. This is certainly the case for me. – Che Ruddell-Tabisola on the modern food truck movement. 

When you talk about why it is that we have this food truck movement. There are a couple reasons, but one of the most significant ones I think is the recession. Because it created a market place of aspiring restauranteurs who could no longer access capital. – Che Rudell-Tabisola

The reason that I think we went with BBQ is that we love hosting. We the people on your block where if you came to our house on an average Saturday before we opened the business… and we were grilling or smoking in our driveway. – Che-Rudell-Tabisola on why they selected BBQ for their food concept. 

Mentioned During the Podcast

BBQ Bus in DC – Learn more about the BBQ Bus in D.C. by visiting their official website. You can view mouth-watering food photos and book the bus for catering events here.

Little Miss Whiskey’s – Local tavern that was one of the first places that had the BBQ Bus. This was a great partnership for the BBQ Bus since the establishment did not offer a food service.

Rocket Bar – Another popular establishment in DC that the BBQ Bus partnered with early. The BBQ Bus was able to serve their brand of smoked meats to fans of the Washington Capitals that play near the bar.

East Coast Mobile Business Launch Pad – Want to start your own mobile food business in the D.C. area or beyond? Check out the East Coast Mobile Business Launch Pad to learn more.

Want to start your own food business?

Hey! 👋I’m Brett Lindenberg, the founder of Food Truck Empire.

We interview successful founders and share the stories behind their food trucks, restaurants, food and beverage brands. By sharing these stories, I want to help others get started.

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