February 12, 2011


Be sure to visit http://www.BBQBackyard.com for all things bbq, barbeque recipes, tailgating and competition bbq.

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October 27, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Blog Has Moved to Its New Home - http://www.porkbarrelbbq.com/blog/

The Pork Barrel BBQ Blog Has Moved to Its New Home - please visit us at http://www.porkbarrelbbq.com/blog/

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October 21, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ Shark Tank Follow-up

Pork Barrel BBQ was featured last night on ABC's Shark Tank - click on the video below to watch the clip!

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October 20, 2009

Welcome Shark Tank Visitors!

Welcome Shark Tank visitors to the Pork Barrel BBQ blog! Looking to buy our award winning Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce and All American Spice Rub? Visit our online store at http://www.PorkBarrelBBQ.com! Be sure sign up for our mailing list or check back often for updates on our Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant coming Spring 2010! Also, please follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/porkbarrelbbq. Thanks for your support!

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October 13, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ at a Harris Teeter Near You!

Looking to try some Pork Barrel BBQ? We're coming to a local Harris Teeter near you! Harris Teeter has been a huge supporter of our business and has given us the chance to sample our products in their stores in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Its an amazing experience to walk into a Harris Teeter and get to see our products on their shelves, and even more fun when we get to sample our products for their customers. We are going to be in four Virginia stores this weekend, and many more to come in coming weeks! Here are some photos from our product demos over the past few weeks - thanks to Harris Teeter for this tremendous opportunity!

Brett, Bill Blackburn and Ali in Alexandria store!

Heath at our first demo in the Tysons Corner store

Heath getting our award winning products cooking!

Always have fun to have friends read our Tweets and come visit us in DC!

Everyone likes to see the cool pig trophy!

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October 11, 2009

The Del Ray BBQ Boys Celebrate Their New Restaurant (and a food writer inadvertently becomes part of the story)

Here's an amazing post by Jordan Wright over at whiskandquill.com!

The Del Ray BBQ Boys Celebrate Their New Restaurant

(and a food writer inadvertently becomes part of the story)

Jordan Wright

Whisk and Quill - http://whiskandquill.com/?p=1039

October 2009
Investor "Mango" Mike and wife Donna with their Pork Barrel BBQ bus - photo by Jordan Wright
I arrived early on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray last week. Brett Thompson and Heath Hall, creators and owners of Pork Barrel BBQ were setting up the tables, pitching the tent and catching up with old friends and supporters in anticipation of the day’s groundbreaking ceremony for their new restaurant venture. In July I wrote about the “Del Ray BBQ Boys”, as I had nicknamed them, for localkicks.com after meeting them and sampling their delicious wares at National Harbor’s Food and Wine Festival. NBC News Washington had picked up my story and it had skyrocketed to tens of thousands more “eyes” on it.

Thompson walked over and said, “This restaurant is all because of you and your story about us. We want to thank you.”

Stunned, I stammered, “What are you talking about?”

“Well, “Mango” Mike read your story on us,” he revealed. (“Mango” Mike, of the eponymous restaurant on Duke Street.) “He googled it up and that’s how he found out about us and offered to back us in this restaurant.”

cut the ribbon with Mayor Bill Euille (center) - Photo Credit Jordan Wright

cut the ribbon with Mayor Bill Euille (center) - Photo Credit Jordan Wright

Of course it was also because back in September they had appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank series and considerably more people had come to know them and their story as former Hill staffers and Virginia-based entrepreneurs.

I looked around at their dream come true. On hand were Alexandria’s Mayor, Bill Euille, Vice Mayor, Kerry Donnelly, Councilman Frank Fannon and Linda and Steve Hubbard, dressed in their UPS chocolate brown and gold uniforms, who own the fulfillment center, where over 1,000 bottles and jars of Pork Barrel BBQ’s fabulous sauce and rub are shipped to eager customers around the country. Everyone came ready to cheer on the boys. Restaurant backers “Mango” Mike and Bill Blackburn, arriving in their massive gold touring bus, were doing the meet-and-greet, while pork smokers wafted waves of heavenly barbecue aroma over the crowd of supporters who milled around with neighborhood business owners and Del Ray’s artsy crowd.

Breaking ground in Del Ray with ABC's Shark Hunt film crew  - photo by Jordan Wright

Breaking ground in Del Ray with ABC's Shark Hunt film crew - photo by Jordan Wright

A couple of local newspaper publishers doing their own event coverage added to the eclectic local crowd along with a “P-O-R-K” fan club made up of four skinny half-naked pig-snouted students from Bishop Ireton High School, all eager to be in on the celebration and tasting. It was the usual set up for a groundbreaking. Golden shovels and giant scissors gleamed in the warm September sun.

But one thing was different…stunningly noticeably different…from any other ribbon cutting in any other town in North America, or the world for that matter.

Because, for this small groundbreaking ceremony for two nice guys in business for less than a year, taking place in a small suburb of Alexandria, Virginia across from the local farmers market held on Saturday mornings in a dentist’s parking lot, Hollywood was on site to cover it. Big time!

ABC’s Shark Tank film crew had shown up full tilt with cameraman, soundman and microphones to record the event for a later show in the boys continuing success saga; and invitees, who knew about the planned coverage in advance, were checking out the action…playing it cool for the cameras.

Pork Barrel BBQ Fan Club chows down - Photo Credit Jordan Wright

Pork Barrel BBQ Fan Club chows down - Photo Credit Jordan Wright

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October 4, 2009

Photos of Pork Barrel BBQ on Fox and Friends!

Things have been a bit busy at Pork Barrel BBQ - but under the better late than never approach, we wanted to share some photos of our adventure to New York with the awesome folks at Fox & Friends!

Here's the Pork Barrel BBQ team (Mango Mike, Bill Blackburn, our incredible distributor Tim Ashman, Brett and Heath) with Fox & Friends Alisyn Camerota, Clayton Morris, Dave Briggs and Rick Reichmuth !

Here we are filming one of our segments - they are trying our award winning Pork Barrel BBQ!

We arrived at midnight the evening before filming to check out Times Square - here's the Pork Barrel BBQ Restaurant group - Brett, Bill, Heath (is that a Pat Green shirt?) and Mango Mike!

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September 24, 2009

Former Senate staffers launch barbecue company - TheHill.com

Former Senate staffers launch barbecue company - TheHill.com

Former Senate staffers launch barbecue company

By Kris Kitto - 09/23/09 06:49 PM ET

It was 1 o’clock in the morning, and Heath Hall and Brett Thompson were in Russell Senate Office Building Room 493, watching yet another debate over pork-barrel spending.

All they could think about was barbecue from their home state of Missouri.

Sadly, they were eating Armand’s pizza — again — one of the few late-night options on Capitol Hill. As the lawmakers droned on, Hall and Thompson lamented the limited barbecue offerings in Washington.

It was then that the pie-in-the-sky idea hit them. Pork Barrel BBQ — that would be a good name for a barbecue company!

Three years later, Hall and Thompson, both 35, have guided their fledgling company on a path neither one imagined on that seminal night. They have won prestigious taste awards and appeared on national television on account of their barbecue rub and sauce, and are poised to expand their sales and open a restaurant in Alexandria.

The duo got perhaps their biggest boost earlier this month when they appeared on ABC’s new show “Shark Tank,” which puts entrepreneurs before a panel of potential investors. Pork Barrel BBQ came away with a $50,000 investment from New York real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran (though Hall’s ego may have taken a loss, as Corcoran prefaced her offer by telling him, “I can’t look at you without picturing you in a pig costume”).

Hall and Thompson’s barbecue dream has meant spending hundreds of dollars of their own money to buy spices for flavor experimentation, pulling pork at 3 a.m. to prepare for event tastings and working grocery-store sample tables on holidays — all while holding down full-time jobs.

“I cooked, I calculated, a half-ton of pork over the last two and half months,” said Thompson, sitting with Hall last week at an Alexandria coffee shop just steps from the site of the restaurant. The two were headed to New York shortly thereafter for an appearance on the Saturday edition of Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” morning show.

Thompson was Sen. Jim Talent’s (R-Mo.) legislative director in the Senate, Hall a legislative assistant.

But the two lost their Senate jobs when Talent was defeated in 2006. Thompson now works as a lobbyist at IGR Group, and Hall is a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.

Though the food industry provides an unlikely segue for departing congressional staffers, both Thompson and Hall have personal histories that give sense to their latest move.

“I was the kid that had the lemonade stand that would stay out after dark for the extra $5,” Thompson said. He went on to start two other small companies — a cake business in college that catered to parents looking for something sweet to send their homesick co-eds, and a music recording company he started after college.

Hall, meanwhile, has always loved food. He comes from a family that enjoys cooking, and he once had an idea for a restaurant in high school after burning a pot while making his famed queso dip.
“My mom said something like, ‘You’ve got to come clean this scorched pot — you guys did it,’ ” he recalled. “And I was like, ‘Oh, “Scorched Pot,” ’ ” — though that restaurant never

Despite Thompson’s early entrepreneurship and Hall’s gastronomical interests — he at one point considered culinary school — they both pursed politics.

Thompson met Talent as a high school sophomore and shortly thereafter began volunteering on his first campaign for a House seat. He worked for Talent through college and law school. When his boss landed in the Senate in 2002, he followed.

Hall interned for John Ashcroft, then a Missouri senator, while in college and returned to Washington after law school, at which time he also won a spot in Talent’s Senate office.

The senator quickly caught on to Hall’s love of food. Hall is known to grow several varieties of tomatoes outside his Washington home, and Talent once e-mailed him during a plane trip over a South Iraq tomato field to tell him he’d found a place where Hall could work after the Senate.

Once they left the Senate, they began experimenting with spice rubs, inviting friends over for their “Kitchen Cabinet” tastings.

Former Rep. Max Sandlin (D-Texas), with whom Thompson now works at IGR, was one of the early fans.

“I’m from Texas, and I know barbecue,” Sandlin said in a phone interview. “It’s like politics in this way: You need a good product, hard work and a little love — and I think they have all three.”

Sandlin has shown up so frequently at Pork Barrel BBQ’s tastings that Hall and Thompson have begun to refer to him jokingly as their international chairman. Sandlin has also been sending the rubs and sauces as gifts to friends and family.

Apparently Talent is a fan, too. On the Pork Barrel BBQ website, one customer testimonial reads, “I used the All American Spice Rub to grill chicken for my teenage daughters — they said it was the best chicken I have ever made — I’m a customer for life!”

The comment came courtesy of a Jim from St. Louis. Talent is from St. Louis and has two daughters. (Hall and Thompson laughed as they admitted that this was Talent.)

Pork Barrel BBQ continues to ride its wave of success. It won the Taste of Del Ray (Alexandria) 2009 People’s Choice Award earlier this month and placed second in the Best BBQ Sauce category and fourth in the Pulled Pork category at the Safeway National Capital BBQ Battle in June. The products are now available online and in 65 stores in four states and Washington. And the Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant, being launched jointly with the owners of Alexandria’s Mango Mike’s restaurant, is set to open in spring 2010.

Hall and Thompson have finally answered that question about good, local barbecue that they pondered as Senate staffers in 2006 — to the point that it has become their lives. Will they ever get sick of eating barbecue?

Said Hall, “Never.”

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All Eyes On: Heath Hall - TruLife

All Eyes On: Heath Hall - TruLife

All Eyes On: Heath Hall

By: Emma Mueller

Posted: 9/24/09

Oink. Oink. Oink. No, it isn't H1N1 that has people talking. Pork Barrel BBQ, co-founded by Truman alumnus Heath Hall, has been gaining quite the buzz lately.

Hall, an employee of former Missouri Senator Jim Talent, created the company along with Brett Thompson in the winter of 2006. Not only will they open a restaurant in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Va. this spring, but Pork Barrel BBQ also holds the No. 1 spot for barbecue on Twitter with 18,000 followers.

Hall said the idea for the business resulted from a late night craving for some barbecue during a Senate budget debate.

"While the Senate was debating pork-barrel spending projects and earmarks, we were debating what we were going to have for dinner that night," Hall said. "I had pizza for about four or five nights in a row and, coming from Missouri, I was like 'Man, wouldn't it be great if there were a barbecue restaurant somewhere in the neighborhood?' There wasn't anything good in the neighborhood, so we started thinking 'Pork barrel spending, pork-barrel barbecue.'"

Hall turned his small glimmer of an idea into a successful establishment. Pork Barrel BBQ consists of two products: a barbecue sauce and an all-American spice rub. The products are made with all-natural ingredients and contain no preservatives or MSG. Hall doesn't classify Pork Barrel BBQ sauce as one particular style, but instead said it reflects his roots: politics.

"We'll be able to bring a little bit of all the styles of barbecue to the restaurant," Hall said. "Obviously, Brett and I being from Missouri, we are kind of schooled in the Kansas City style, but we want to be able to hopefully let them [the customers] recall some memories of their favorite [barbecue] restaurant back home."

The restaurant will feature sauces from all regions of the country, not just the Kansas City influence.

"We're going to have Carolina vinegar sauce and a Carolina barbecue sauce," Hall said. "Our original sauce I would classify somewhere between the Kansas City and Texas style sauce. It's a smoky, tangy sauce. It's got a little bit of heat, but it's not super hot. We're going to be doing a hot sauce, a sweeter sauce and a mango-chipotle barbecue sauce."

In addition to their brand new restaurant "Pork Barrel BBQ" opening this spring, Hall and Thompson were featured on the ABC show "Shark Tank," which allows entrepreneurs to pitch their idea in front of five investors in the hopes that their idea will be backed financially by one or more of the investors.

"It was really a shock to us when we got an e-mail and a call from Mark Burnett Productions saying that they've been following our company," Hall said. "Three weeks later we finished about 50 pages of paperwork, a five-minute audition tape and got the call back from them that they were interested in us coming out. It was a pretty interesting experience.

"The opportunity for this level of exposure was something Hall said he never thought he would achieve. Hall said not only did they have their very own Hollywood star trailer, complete with their names on the door, but he and Thompson also were sworn to secrecy for two months until the show aired.

"Out of the five sharks, we ended up getting a deal with Barbara Corcoran, who is a real estate mogul from New York," Hall said. "She gave us $50,000 for a 50 percent stake in the company, and we're really excited to work with her. She's a real shark, a real go-getter. We're still trying to finalize everything, but we're sure it's going to be a great partnership.

"Even with all the new opportunities that have resulted because of one late night idea, Hall always has had a love for food, especially barbecue.

"My dad has always been known as the post office guy of barbecue," Hall said. "He's always barbecuing in rain, sleet, snow, summer, winter, fall, spring. It doesn't matter, he's always out there on the grill. So a lot of my love for barbecue came from him."

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September 19, 2009

Pork Barrel BBQ on FOX and Friends on Fox News Network!

Fresh off their experience on ABC's Shark Tank, the Pork Barrel BBQ Team traveled to New York City this morning to cook for the great folks at FOX and Friends! Alisyn Camerota, Clayton Morris, Dave Briggs and Rick Reichmuth were so much fun and huge thanks to Samantha and Toba for meeting us at 5 am to start cooking Pork Barrel BBQ! We'll post photos and video from our adventure (including a trip on Mango Mike's Pork Barrel 1 bus!) in the coming days, but wanted to share the great clip here:

Also, craziness ensued in the FOX and Friends After the Show Show:

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