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"I Was an Awful High School Student": How the Owner of an Award-Winning Restaurant Brand Beat the Odds and Found Success For Andy Husbands, champion pit master, author, and owner of multi-unit restaurant company The Smoke Shop, the culinary path has been a lifelong pursuit fueled by passion and inspiration.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • Andy Husbands has only wanted to be one thing since the 4th grade: a chef. As he cut his teeth in the industry, he met renowned chef Chris Schlesinger who inspired him in the kitchen and beyond.
  • Andy Husbands has won his fair share of barbecue competitions. One of the many things he has learned is that nothing prepares you more than repetition and practice when preparing for the BBQ comps.
  • As a business owner with investors, he says he has a responsibility to operate in a fiscally responsible manner. He chose Toast as his POS system to make his business run as efficiently as possible.
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"I was an awful high school student, and I was a superior culinary student."

Since the 4th grade, Andy Husbands set his sights on becoming a chef, navigating a journey that led him to work alongside culinary luminary Chris Schlesinger. This mentorship not only shaped Husbands' culinary skills but also instilled in him the values that define his approach to both food and life.

"He taught me not just how to be a better chef, but to be a man," Husbands told Restaurant Influencers host Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media. "To stand up and treat people well and take care of your team."

Related: Chef Says This Is the No. 1 Thing That Makes a Restaurant Successful or Not

Husbands' journey into the world of competitive barbecue has been packed full of lessons. He emphasizes the importance of repetition and preparation, highlighting that the skills acquired in the intense world of competitions trickle down to enhance the dining experience at his restaurants.

"The way I like to talk about competition, it's like the Lance Armstrong of barbecue. It's jacked full of stuff." Husbands said. "A common person doesn't drive a NASCAR but some of that stuff that happens in NASCAR trickles down to your Camry.

Embracing new restaurant tech

In the realm of restaurant management, Andy Husbands has learned that efficiency is paramount.

Transitioning to Toast point of sale system, a decision motivated by fiscal responsibility and operational improvements, was a natural fit. Husbands said his shift to Toast not only resolved data entry challenges but also opened up new possibilities.

Related: How The Nourish Spot Is Building a Legacy of Healthy Eating and Community Connection

"They've opened up my world to other things that I can do," Husbands remarked, showcasing how technology aligns seamlessly with his vision for a successful business.

With Toast, Husbands not only ensures financial prudence but is supporting a Boston-born company that shares his commitment to excellence.

"It just made sense."

About Restaurant Influencers

Restaurant Influencers is brought to you by Toast, the powerful restaurant point-of-sale and management system that helps restaurants improve operations, increase sales and create a better guest experience.

Toast — Powering Successful Restaurants. Learn more about Toast.

Shawn P. Walchef

Founder of Cali BBQ Media

“Be the show, not the commercial.”

Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn Walchef helps brands and leaders leverage the new Business Creator Economy with strategic Smartphone Storytelling and Digital Hospitality.

His Cali BBQ restaurant company has generated more than $35 million since opening in 2008. They operate numerous locations in San Diego and beyond.

Shawn’s weekly video series Restaurant Influencers (published by Entrepreneur Media and produced by Cali BBQ Media) has been seen by over 25 million people.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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