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Josh House and Shawn Walchef may have been separated at birth.
The Pickles & Bones Barbecue co-owner in Milford, OH and the Cali BBQ founder from La Jolla, CA may not have grown up in the same home, but they found each other in a familiar house just the same.
“I’m a big podcast guy and I learn through listening,” says Josh House when he was a guest on the Digital Hospitality podcast in June 2021.
“I’ve come to learn how valuable the audio form is, and I enjoy Clubhouse. It’s a cool way to get a good group of people across the country together and talk about the stuff we’re all thinking about.”
Learn more about Pickles and Bones Barbecue at: https://www.picklesandbones.com/
Subscribe to the Cali BBQ YouTube channel and click the bell icon to get notified of new videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMctYe4sqv9jxfmWmp0C2sw
PODCAST CHAPTERS —
- [0:00] Intro to Digital Hospitality podcast interview with Josh House (Pickles & Bones Barbecue)
- [2:15] Using the Clubhouse App
- [8:46] The Importance of Mentorship
- [12:16] Opening Another Restaurant
- [17:09] Hospitality is Making Memorable Moments
- [23:27] Starting a Podcast as a Restaurant Owner
- [37:46] Mental Health Awareness
- [43:23] Connect with Josh House
Building the Pickles and Bones Barbecue Business:
Through the drop-in audio chat app Clubhouse, the two barbecue businessmen turned media mavens found each online and found out they had a lot in common.
- Both men work with their wives.
- Both men run their own podcast.
- Both men were raised in the kitchen.
“I’ve been a chef my whole life,” recalls Josh. “Washing dishes and making pizzas when I was 14. I went to college and realized it wasn’t for me and I fell in love with restaurants — every part of it.”
In Ohio, Josh put in his time in the kitchen just as Shawn grinded it out on the operational side. By the mid-2010s, Josh was ready to expand past his executive chef status and start carving out a company of his own.
“My wife and I purchased a food trailer,” Josh looks back. “We set up in a parking lot not far from our house as a side hustle on Sundays when I was off work. We did twelve Sundays in 2015 and got great feedback.”
It didn’t take long for Josh and his wife’s food truck to become a brick and mortar location and a full-time endeavor. Pickles and Bones Barbecue became a staple of Milford, feeding the city and becoming part of its fabric.
“Our goal was to establish ourselves as a pillar of our community,” Josh shares. “We give back to schools and any non-profit we can partner with.”
In the time since opening, Josh and his wife have become credible in their community like any good neighbor. They are accountable, they are hospitable, they make great moments for others and they strive to get better every day.
Getting Better at Running a Restaurant Every Day:
The lessons Josh House learned as an executive chef set him up for the standard he and his staff adhere to today.
“If you’re paying $15 for barbecue from us, as a chef, it’s no different than if you’re paying $200 for a five-course tasting menu,” notes Josh. “Fine dining is really just attention to detail and not taking shortcuts. We never sacrifice quality for profit or convenience. We only use prime brisket; anything less we just won’t serve it. I won’t be able to sleep at night if I put out something that’s inferior to our standard. We make all the sauces and all the sides. A lot of the cooks have been in fine dining in the past.”
The proof is in the pudding, or rather the brisket, at Pickles & Bones Barbecue. Quality ingredients and added integrity are the secret sauce for a company embedded in their community.
So is connection.
Like Shawn, Josh knows that when it comes to connecting with the community, it’s important to practice hospitality both in person and online.
“When you see an extremely nice photograph? That’s my wife,” laughs Josh on Pickles & Bones’ social presence. “But a behind-the-scenes photo with grease on the camera? That’s me right there. People also appreciate that. The truth resonates and I’m showing you what the kitchen really looks like.”
Engaging with the community online is a staple for Josh and just like his photos, it involves showing both the perfectly cooked brisket and the grease in the kitchen.
An expanding interest in media prompted Josh to start his own show, The Pickles and Bones Podcast, as a way to share his story from the success to the struggles.
“I have some survivor’s guilt for having a great year in 2020, but it’s my job to share how we did it,” says Josh.
Josh’s business and barbecue advice nourishes listeners, as does his ability to be vulnerable about challenging topics like mental health.
“If Anthony Bourdain was around today, I think he’d be an even bigger advocate for mental health,” shares Josh. “Mental health will never be all of our talking points, but let’s make it part of the conversation.”
As an owner, husband, father and podcaster, barbecue businessmen like Josh and Shawn have a lot on their plate. Still, they strive every day to be better and bring others up with them.
“I struggle with the guilt of how I’m going to be ten places at once,” admits Josh. “But whatever place I’m at I just put one 100% into it. I’m trying to be better at that all the time.”
Josh House and Shawn Walchef may not be brothers, but their ability to share their stories connects them. We thank them both for being 100% dedicated to helping others whether through smoked brisket or hearty conversation.
— Feature Article by Cali BBQ Media Digital Hospitality Specialist Ian Stonebrook. Follow Ian on Social Media @ianstonebrook.
More Digital Hospitality Content:
► Mental Health Awareness and the Hospitality Industry: https://calibbq.media/blog/mental-health-awareness-hospitality-business/
► Turn Yourself into a Digital Media Machine | Drew Glick (Max & Louie’s New York Diner): https://youtu.be/_GFBfoDP2ho
► Everyone is in the Relationship Business | Chef Jensen Cummings (Best Served Podcast): https://calibbq.media/chef-jensen-cummings-best-served-podcast-dh098/
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