We recently reached out to Joseph from Brooklyn to talk with us about a local BBQ business he briefly ran during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a transcript of the interview.
Tell us about your background with Rosebranch.
I started Rosebranch BBQ because, mostly, I was bored. Pre-pandemic I was working in a cheese/charcuterie joint (shoutout to Stinky Bklyn, may it rest in peace), doing stand-up, and a little production and acting work. Most nights were at bars and comedy clubs, and every day off I was doing five or six open mics, shows on occasion. Because I couldn’t do that, and, to a lesser extent, the restaurant I was employed at had business slow down in the winter, I decided to start selling some barbecue.
Why BBQ specifically? Have you tried BBQ from other states? If so, what would you say makes your BBQ stand out from theirs?
There’s a few reasons for going with BBQ. First, I grew up in Texas, and have worked in and out of food service in one form or another since I was fifteen. I got really into it in college when I was powerlifting, and needed some way to make eating several thousand calories a day interesting. Second, and more importantly, I had a few drinks on one night, and wanted to order some BBQ from DoorDash. Turns out it’s $40 after tip. A little rich for my blood, especially with barely enough to feed one person. Lastly, I make it better than most people here. Historically, low and slow cooking has been done at home in cities like New York. This means smoke is something that most folks don’t have much experience with unless they work in a place that focuses on it. The average Joe has nothing to go off of. You don’t have a guy in a gas station parking lot who serves the best ribs on the block. You don’t have a backyard where you can just sit on a porch with a few buddies having a couple of beers while you let the smoker just run in the background.
Could you describe to us what kinds of customers you get at your operation?
I got folks from all walks of life. Young, old, teachers, professors, artists, mechanics, construction workers. Everyone who wanted something that tasted really good.
What is it that draws people to your business? Is it the smell of brisket? Being part of the local community? Or something else?
There’s a number of things that drew people in. Being just a dude in the neighborhood helped, but I got a lot of folks from all over the boroughs coming by. My marketing was simple, “I am doing this thing on this date, it will cost this much, do you want some? Great!” And that was it. I posted pretty much that on Reddit and Instagram. The key was, because I did all of this from home by myself, my costs were low. My rent on my kitchen was just the rent I would normally pay every month. I know some butchers and restaurant supply companies, so I get wholesale pricing. I know how to cook cheap, and make it taste great. All said, I offered a better product for less money. If someone said you could have a rusted out Ford Pinto or a Mercedes S-Class, and that Benz is cheaper, you’re gonna be driving in luxury.
What is next for Rosebranch?
It’s shut down for now. I’m able to get back out there doing comedy nowadays which means that my free time off work is spent mostly towards that. I don’t have a commercial kitchen where I can cook and it takes up so much time. So, for the moment, I am putting off cooking aside. If someone wants me to work with them on doing something like this in the future, I’m down for it. Hell, I may do something with it again if the money and timing’s right. However, for the foreseeable future I’ll just be cooking for myself and my friends. If you are interested in BBQ or just want to say hi, shoot me a message on Instagram at RosebranchBBQ. I like talking shop, and will even tell you what to get if you want to try your hand at it yourself.
This transcript was lightly edited for clarity and brevity.