We Got Started
KT's stands for Kirk and Tricia (Jamison). We are modeled after Pecos Pit BBQ in Seattle, where we're from. Guided by this inspiration, we took a trip to Memphis to eat BBQ three or four times a day for a week, to really learn what real BBQ is like. Over the summer of 1991 we wrote a business plan and raised $50,000. In the fall of that year we moved to Boulder in our Landcruiser with our two dogs—towing everything we owned in a 5'x8' U-Haul trailer and making our first address the bank of the St. Vrain river near Lyons. We found the old blue house at 63rd and Arapahoe to rent for the restaurant, and opened January 3rd, 1992.
KT's First 3 Years
For the first three years of business it was just Kirk and Tricia, working 10 to 16 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week. On our first day of business we served about 20 people, had $100 in sales—and these first customers still come in often. In July 1992 the Boulder Daily Camera ran a large, full-color article on KT's BBQ, and overnight our business went crazy with lines out the door everyday. We were often coming back to the restaurant at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. to unload, prep and reload more meat in the smokers. It was exhausting but thrilling.
Our business was thriving not only because of rich, satisfying food, but also thanks to the relationships Tricia and I were building with our guests as we learned their names and sat down to eat with them. Since we started out from scratch in Boulder, our customers became our friends. Building relationships with our customers is something we still strive to do and a desire we instill in the people who work here. (All of KT's value combo baskets—Mike's, Joe's and Amy's—and the June Bowl are named in honor of customers.) All of our customers and friends helped KT's continue to grow, and in 1995 we hired our first employee, Russell Lester, then just 14 years old, though he stayed on board with us until he went to college.
Opening New Stores
In 1995 we also hired Melanie Thibodeau as manager and shortly thereafter we opened our second restaurant in Boulder. In 1996 we moved the original KT's location to 75th and Arapahoe, and in September 2000 we opened our third location, this one in Broomfield. In 1998, with about 15 employees, we began the process of documenting our values, beliefs and operations so we can actively share them with everyone who comes to work here.
Catering Takes Off
KT's catering services began to take off in 1999, and today represent the fastest-growing part of our business. Led by Laura Shinefield, our catering business now sports three pink "pig" delivery vans, a huge trailer-mounted BBQ and a staff that can handle multiple large events at a time. On one particularly memorable occasion, KT's was selected as one of the caterers at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Coors Field, where we served about 800 BBQ lovers in an afternoon.
It's more than 15 years now since we started KT's, and as our business has evolved, so have our goals. We're still committed to real good BBQ and getting to know our customers. We also keep in sight our aspirations of maintaining a financially and operationally sound, morally strong business. A business built to last. Towards this goal—and to ensure she stays with us and receives the rewards of her efforts—we made Melanie a partner in our company in 2001. The adventure continues and we're glad you're along.
What Our Customers Have to Say
"When asked to put a luncheon together for a meeting, the next question that is asked is 'Can we have KT's BBQ?' Many thanks for making my job easier! The food is always yummy, especially Kirk's Killer Beans, and the folks at KT's are great to work with!"
—Laurie Jorgenson, Qualcomm, Inc.
"Everybody loved the plentiful, fresh, delicious KT's BBQ. The customer service was unbelievable, KT's friendly staff served 300 employees in less than 2 hours, each plate of BBQ was fresh and hot. The way you wrapped up the leftovers and sent them home with our employees was definitely something no caterer has ever done for us. We will definitely use KT's for our next company picnic!"
—Ann Burns, US West Advanced Technologies
"Thanks for the wonderful BBQ party! It was the prefect start to our wedding activities. Everyone enjoyed the ribs and chicken fresh from the grill so much. All our yummy KT's leftovers have been of great use with all the family in town."
—Sue Ieuter, rehearsal dinner
"Everything you said you would do was done and the food was excellent."
—Don Martin, Auto Connection
"It's not easy to satisfy 200 hungry sales people. KT's makes everyone happy, every time!"
—Derrick Christopher, GE Access
"Great job! We use KT's BBQ for two employee events each year because of the consistent quality and service. We know we can count on KT's!"
— Pamela Witter, Otologics
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KT's BBQ Locations: Downtown Boulder, East Boulder, Broomfield, Denver
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