Porter’s Real Barbecue Is a Hobby-Turned-Business Paying Off for Brothers
In 2014 people in Richland began hearing about a food truck at John Dam Plaza that was good, but was only open for lunch because they sold out of food fast. Fans of authentic Southern barbecue were curious and excited when the owners opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant a block south in the Parkway called, “Porter’s Real Barbecue” in June of 2015. Today the restaurant cooks 700 pounds of meat per day and sells out most nights before closing at 7 p.m.
Porter’s Real Barbecue was opened by brothers, and life-long Tri-Cities residents, Reed and Porter Kinney. It is the fulfillment of a dream and self-financed from personal savings accounts. It all began when Porter moved to South Carolina for a few months to work a traveling sales job. He came back with a South-Carolina bride and a love for Southern barbecue.
After searching for something close in Tri-Cities he decided to learn how to make it himself. With encouragement from family and friends he opened the food truck in October 2014.
Self-financing was hard, Porter acknowledges.
“It’s a personal decision and one that’s different for everyone. We put our entire life savings on the line. For us it paid off, but it was a high-risk venture. For a lot of people it doesn’t work out. This kind of business is tough and has a high failure rate,” he said.
A small business loan from a local credit union helped finance the sit-down restaurant.
The risk paid off and Porter’s is now one of the busiest new restaurants in Tri-Cities (and the top purchaser of Angus Beef in our region). Porter credits his success to two things: putting quality first and listening to the customers.
“We’ve always had a quality-first approach with no room for shortcuts,” he said.
And because a business like this is a fulfillment of a dream and passion, sometimes it’s tough to change in response to customer suggestions.
“The biggest thing in my opinion is listening to customers or the market. You must be receptive to what the customer says they want, not what you want. Going in that direction as a priority,” he said.
The most unanticipated discovery is the workload.
“An 80-to-100-hour work week is required and there’s no way to get around it. You must devote your entire life to a business — at least to start it,” he said.
No matter how hard you work you can never do everything yourself. Being able to rely on your staff is an absolute must, he added. “Invest in your employees. Attract the best you can and treat them as well as possible. Without your employees you’re nothing.”
Porter’s Real Barbecue
<705 The Parkway (just west of George Washington Way near Lee Blvd) Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (or until the food runs out) (509) 942-9590
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