Close your eyes. Imagine barbecue. What’s the next thing you see in your head?
Your answer is probably one of two things. Family, the outdoors, or both. And Kevin Bludso of Bludso’s Bar & Que is right there with you.
“Barbecue is always a party,” Bludso said. “Every time when you think about BBQ, you think about being outside. You think about summertime and springtime. You think about a football game. It’s just happy times.”
In our current situation, family and the outdoors have never been so paramount. We’re holding our loved ones a little closer. And we’re longing for the things we miss outside our homes.
It’s BBQ that can both remind us of those things and take our worries away - at least for one night.
The LAFC Meal 1/2 lb. of pulled pork & brisket, half chicken, full rack of ribs, 1/2 lb. of rib tips, Texas red hot, a half pint of all sides, pickles, cornbread & BBQ sauce.
That’s the inspiration behind Bludso’s LAFC Meal. It’s a full family-style BBQ meal with all the sides. And it’s a chance to take the burden off cooking for one night while still bringing the entire family together.
And as a way of thanking the LAFC family that has supported Bludso’s both at the restaurant and inside Banc of California Stadium, Bludso’s is donating its LAFC Meal to two deserving Black & Gold families this week. I had the chance to catch up with Kevin this week to talk about what Bludso’s is doing to get through this tough time and the partnership with LAFC:
How the restaurant is dealing with everything that’s going on right now?
Of course, it’s tough right now for everybody. It’s different. But like I tell my kids, you got to embrace change. You’ve got to make a negative into a positive. We’re blessed that the brand is so strong and that we have so many people still coming to get takeout. We knew it was going to be tough. We had to furlough some of our staff but nowhere near as many people as we thought we were. So, we just feel blessed in that. And we’re just pushing through it. Trying to come up with new concepts. We’re just trying to attack the situation. It’s a situation you don’t have any control of, all you can control is what you do during this. And just stay in attack mode. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Have your customers been happy to still get BBQ?
Oh, yeah! Definitely. Everybody just wants to get back to some normalcy. They might not be able to come sit down but just the taste of Bludso’s. People have been saying, “Oh, my god. Just to come get some ribs, we wasn’t sure if you guys were going to be open.” And like I tell them, just being able to help people makes a big difference. I’m a firm believer. I say all the time, I’m not the most religious person in the world, but I don’t give to be blessed, I’m blessed so I give. And I just feel like when you look out for people it comes back tenfold. It might not be tomorrow. It might not be in a year. But all the love that we’re getting right now has come back from all the love we’ve been giving for so many years.
I always think of BBQ with a big group of people and being out in the sun somewhere which is something we’re missing in these times. What does BBQ mean to you?
You said it right there. Barbecue is always a party. Every time when you think about BBQ, you think about being outside. You think about summertime and springtime. You think about a football game. It’s just happy times. And that’s the whole thing. Even when people come into the restaurant now, I was telling the staff you still got to be happy when they come in. They’re happy to come pick this food up. They want some BBQ, they want some normalcy. So, you have to get them. They leave and review and the first thing they say is the staff was so uplifting in this storm. The staff was an umbrella in this storm. And you have to be that way because that’s what BBQ is. BBQ is a party. Always has been, always will be.
Restaurants are like a family, how is your staff holding up right now?
That’s it right there, you still gotta look out for them, too. The first thing you do in a disaster or tragic situation is look after your immediate family. Bludso’s is immediate family. What can we do to keep as many on as we can? They have to feed their families. They’re used to a way of life and all that. And they’ve responded to that. We had people donating hours back and donate hours to our hour bank for employees we couldn’t keep during this time. Because people get unemployment but it’s only a percentage. We have that hour bank to give back to some of our employees because they’re family.
Tell me about a little bit about the LAFC Meal.
It’s a party. LAFC games are a family atmosphere. So, we’ve got a family meal. We take all the guesswork out of it. We’ve got everything you need for a picnic. Just like at the game. It’s a picnic to go. You take the picnic and you go to wherever you’re going to eat it. You ain’t gotta worry about Auntie’s potato salad. We take all the guesswork out of it for you.
What has it been like teaming up with LAFC?
It’s really important to be with LAFC. Because like I say, LAFC is family too, now. Once they put Bludso’s in [Banc] we’re all together. Everybody get in the same car and let’s roll. They’re community-oriented and I know because this what they do. To be in positions that we are with the stadium, with Bludso’s, with LAFC, we’re blessed. The average person has to work a 9 to 5 every single day and they need us right now. It’s funny because they need us but we needed them 24/7 to get to where we are. And we realize that as business owners. We’ve called for their help way more than they’ve called for our help. They need us right now. We need to be there. This is not the time to run and hide. Those people, those mamas that spent their last $30 to come get some BBQ or their last $20 to come watch a soccer game, they need us right now. They’ve spent their last on use before, so we got to give them all we can give them right now.
In addition to the meals you’re donating, you also do work with Operation BBQ Relief. Why are they an important cause?
Even before the pandemic, they were doing great things. Even if it’s not a tragedy, they’re doing great things. They’re going to places. They work with so many different people. They work with FEMA. They go to communities. They work with Habit For Humanity. They’ve been doing things for so long. This is them. It’s like calling 9-1-1. They’re “Johnny-on-the-spot” for things like this. And we are too. When they call, you gotta go and help. Like I said, it’s community and that’s what they do. Operation BBQ Relief is there for everything. There’s nothing you can’t ask them that they won’t at least try their best to do for you. And I love that.