Listen to this article now
“We are proud of the community we come from.”
Bear Creek Smokehouse has been around for years—78 years, to be exact—and with all of the trials and tribulations that have been thrown their way, they have always done what they can to help out in their community and to give their customers the best experience imaginable. This family-owned business started off with a strong passion for sharing love and good food with the people of Marshall, Texas. Over the decades, it turned into a full-blown business that not only shares love and good food, but raises money and hosts events for organizations like the Hannah House Maternity Home that provides a safe space for pregnant young women.
Aside from being one of the top tourist destinations, they have released a cookbook, had a chance to promote their love for cooking on national television, and host weekly barbecue cookouts in their 60,000-square foot facility. I had the chance to sit down with Robbie, the third-generation owner of Bear Creek Smokehouse, and talk with him about all the wonderful things Bear Creek has done over the generations.
What is your everyday life at Bear Creek like?
“Well, one thing I love about my job is that it is always changing. Life can get Western and so many different things pop up every day. There are different facets of our business and I’m always needed everywhere at any time.”
Robbie is normally in his office as the head-honcho of the business, but he is always involved in everything. That is something that makes this business so special. It isn’t just passed around by different workers that were hired on. Everything is about family. It’s about making the best experience possible when you come to Bear Creek—and you know that Robbie and his family have played a huge part in that. After opening their new store in 2018, they were able to stay close and be a part of the everyday life at Bear Creek.
78 years going strong! How have you guys kept the business thriving despite the pandemic?
“Even with all the wild stuff that has happened in 2020, we have had one of our best years yet. We are so blessed with everything that we have been able to do and with being able to survive these 78 years and survive a pandemic. Being able to sell and ship out food all over the country has been a key in the survival of the business this year.”
Especially with the pandemic, having sales was something that was fearful for Robbie and Bear Creek. They didn’t know what was going to happen, but thankfully everything was quite successful for them! Because Bear Creek has their hands in almost everything from shipping products to selling products in their own stores and to other grocery stores across the country, they were able to make their best sales ever made in March and April of last year. Setting an all-time record for the business! Being able to stay open and count as an essential business really benefitted the company as a whole, something that Robbie and his team are really blessed about.
“One of the things that I think has made us so successful is that we’re creating an experience for people and families when they come out. It isn’t just to come out and buy some bacon or sausage. We have Wilbert (our famous pig) and some longhorns you could feed when you come out, we have a huge BBQ pit and area in the back…We try to really make it family friendly since our focus is Food, Family, and Faith. We want our customers to feel a part of the family and to take their time by giving personal service that you don’t really get on the computer or with online ordering. We strive for excellence and the best customer service possible.”
The Bellamy Brothers Fundraiser you recently put together seemed fantastic! Can you tell me a bit about that?
“Last September, we partnered up with Hannah House that helps single moms get on their feet after having a baby. So, we had the Bellamy Brothers come up and perform a little concert. About 1,200 people showed up! We were able to feed about half of them and raised a ton of money for the Hannah House’s cause.”
Knowing that there are businesses out there that are striving to not only make you feel a part of a family but striving to make a difference in people’s lives means the world. The Hannah House fundraiser that Robbie and Bear Creek threw together last year raised a total of $23,395! All of that money went to a fantastic cause that helps support young women and new mothers to get them on their feet in a world that may try to knock them down. On top of the fundraisers they throw, Bear Creek hosts weddings, corporate parties, and events in an environment that makes you feel at home.
Family is a huge part of the business. How have you implemented that family belief into your everyday work and passed it down through generations?
“Down in the store, there’s a section where we have quotes on the wall. My dad has one and I have one. Mine says, ”Happiness is getting to go to work every day with the ones you love the most” which is something that I feel every day. I grew up working with my mom and my dad and my grandparents. It’s truly a generational thing, you learn to work together and with family and you find that you strive together. Putting the family and the business ahead of everything else is important.”
Even though they all are so close to the work, it could seem hard to separate work time from family time. But that never seemed to be a problem for Bear Creek. Because it is a family-owned business and the business is shaped around family, putting those two things together never seemed hard. Even though it is a job, it never seems that way because they all love what they do and are so blessed to be doing what they do still.
Food, Family, Faith
“It’s just been something that has been passed through the generations. We have never put it on paper, but we really do live by that motto. Everything we have done has been with Food, Family, and Faith in mind and spirit.”
This business and this family are so important. In my short time talking with Robbie over the phone, I felt the passion and the love for his family business through the phone. With just the way he spoke about how blessed he was to even be a part of the business was really inspiring and captivating. To be able to mix family and business together is such an amazing thing.
Bear Creek Smokehouse has accomplished so many things over their decades of life. They’ve won awards, they’ve been on national television to promote their business, and they’ve just found the good in the bad. With the harshness of the pandemic, they were able to find moments like their fundraisers and events that will stick with them for years to come. But one of the most important things that makes Bear Creek Smokehouse so special and successful is family. It’s the putting family first and sharing that love with all of their customers that makes them who they are.
Have you checked out Bear Creek Smokehouse? Let us know your experience down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.