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Success Stories

Commercial Kitchen Fires Texas Barbecue up to Next Level

Djinni Yancey
Economic Development
Entrepreneur
Grants
Local Foods
Small Business
Ruben Lopez Opening Smoker to show meat cooking inside.

When Ruben Lopez and his wife Katherine moved from Texas to Price, Utah a few years ago, they didn’t have plans to open a restaurant. The idea began with a question Ruben posted on Facebook. “How would y'all like some Texas barbecue out here?” His query received hundreds of positive responses within an hour. Ruben fired up his smoker and started selling plates of food from his driveway, which grew to pop-up events on the weekends and sold out every time.

When the Southeastern Utah Business and Technical Assistance Center (BTAC) commercial kitchen opened in Price in 2021, Ruben, Katherine and their crew were the first business to start using the kitchen regularly.

Located in Price, BTAC offers remote workspaces, and services for entrepreneurs to grow successful businesses through mentorship with local government, higher education, and established businesses. In 2020, USDA Rural Development provided a Rural Business Development Grant to support the economic development efforts of the Utah Coal County Strike team, the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments, and the Southeastern Utah Economic Development District (SEUALG/SEUEDD), to renovate BTAC kitchen space to be used as a commercial kitchen where local entrepreneurs could get their start.

Ruben rented the shared kitchen for over a year while he grew his pop-up catering business. At the BTAC he learned how to get his business started properly with a contract, license and permits. The BTAC allowed Ruben to store his supplies there including his large smoker.

”The BTAC was instrumental in getting our business to the next level,” Ruben said.

Ruben’s first big catering job was for his full-time employer feeding about 170 people. He eventually quit that job to work part-time for another company while he ran his pop-up catering business. The business kept Ruben and Katherine so busy, they eventually began catering full-time. When Ruben recently heard a restaurant space was available on Main Street in Price, he decided to rent that space and open a restaurant that continues to cater.

Ruben’s BBQ celebrated their grand opening with full support of many people in the community.

Ruben said, “We do not claim to be the best barbecue restaurant in Utah, but once you have had our food, you have a standard.”

With USDA Rural Development’s support for rural economic development, the BTAC can continue to give people like Ruben and Katherine a strong foundation to start and grow their businesses and thrive.

Date of Obligation
Obligation Amount:
$50,0000
Date of Obligation:
Congressional District:
(02 UT) Chris Stewart