If you want to hear what it’s like to open a restaurant in 2022 – listen to Kerry Fitzmaurice, Founder of Pure Grit BBQ. She found her Chef on Instagram during the pandemic, started with selling sauces, then did pop-ups, and recently opened her first location in NYC in May.
Not only is she reinventing what BBQ looks and tastes like, but she’s on a mission to make it accessible and delicious for anyone – carnivores, omnivores, and plant-eaters!
Kerry and our host Jen Kern discuss the importance of teamwork and how the community can help a new entrepreneur succeed.
🍽️ Name: Kerry Fitzmaurice
🍽️ What she does: Founder, Creator, Myth-Buster of the Vegan Lifestyle
🍽️ Company: Pure Grit BBQ
🍽️ Noteworthy: Kerry spent 25 years as an advertising, PR, and marketing executive, working with brands like Sonos, Target, and Exxon. She was recently featured recently in an article about females thriving in a male-dominated industry — barbecue & restaurant entrepreneurs.
🍽️ Where to find Kerry: LinkedIn
Managing labor and food costs effectively while trying to deliver high-quality food is challenging. Especially given supply chain issues. Still, Kerry didn’t give up on the idea of making her food affordable to as many community members as possible. ”Vegan food is expensive. There’s nothing I can do about it. But I can give you a good salad and a good veggie bowl at a price point you can afford. We offer student discounts, a military discount, a police discount, and we are reaching out to those communities.”
Making BBQ accessible to everyone – including people of all dietary needs and preferences. That’s what inspired Kerry to bring the idea of Pure Grit BBQ into reality. ”A little over three years ago. I was at SXSW. And it’s an awesome barbecue town — Austin, Texas — lots of famous Pitmasters. And a lot of people, when we would have downtime, would be like, ‘Oh great, I’m gonna go to this barbecue place or this place.’ As a plant-based eater, there wouldn’t be much food for me. I felt excluded and thought, what if there was a barbecue that was inclusive, not just for all dietary restrictions, but even in the way we talk? What if we came up with other ways of talking about barbecue to make it more open and friendly for more people at the table?”
The dream of Pure Grit BBQ was brought into reality thanks to an incredible female team. Kerry’s restaurant proves that a well-coordinated team comprised of members who share the same values and passion. ”I found an awesome vegan chef named Nikki King Bennett who was on Bad Vegan. Then, I found a Pitmaster in Staten Island to help me smoke different vegetables and alternative proteins. Then I was on Instagram and came across Emily Hersh, who was competing in Hell’s Kitchen Young Guns. And I have a great partner in this woman named Jenny Mark, who helps with all the creative marketing, the brand ethos, brand pillars, how we talk, and how we go to market.’
Kerry’s Experience of Opening a Restaurant in 2022
“I didn’t open a restaurant prior to 2022. I never had a restaurant before the pandemic, so I have no comparison. We opened on May 7, and then that second strain of COVID swept through the city. I learned a lot from Chris Pezzimenti. He helped me negotiate a lease in one of his prior spaces and helped me with my expectations for sales. I kept his staff, and I was able to work with them and re-train them on our menu. So it has been this community effort.”
“It’s been as awesome as I thought it would be and as hard as I thought it would be. It’s not easy, but it’s rewarding.”
Finding the #1 Food Item by Accident
While attending a charity event at Pig Beach the Pure Grit BBQ team accidentally burnt their impossible (like a brisket). Rolling with the punches, the team slathered it in barbecue sauce, wrapped it in tin foil, and put it in a hot hold with a water pan for 2 hours. This accidental way of cooking it has resulted in it being their number one seller.
Our Goal Is to Prepare Delicious Food for Everyone, Not Just Vegans and Plant Eaters
”It’s plant-based, but it’s comfort food. It’s potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, and French fries. So we have seen a very diverse demographic. And when I say diverse, I mean gender, race, age, all of the above.”