Betting it all on his BBQ

Despite growing up in Oregon, a state not exactly known for its smoked meats, Keizer resident Troy Campbell is no stranger to barbecue.

His grandparents owned and operated a restaurant in Portland called Campbell’s BBQ for almost 20 years; they taught their children and grandchildren the family recipes.

“Barbecue, barbecue sauce, backyard barbecues, all that has been part of our lives for a long time,” he said.

When his grandparents moved to Portland to open their restaurant, the rest of the family slowly followed. “He (Campbell’s grandfather) moved here from Oakland to Portland to do barbecue for a living and then gradually the rest of the family slowly started to make their way north to Oregon,” he said.

For the last five, years Campbell was working for Coca-Cola and doing barbecue on the side. 

“Eventually, my wife encouraged me to just take it full time,” he said, which is when he opened his food truck Uncle Troy’s BBQ. “I’ve been in the service industry for a long time but the barbecue aspect of it is new.”

The issue he had with his previous careers was a he never identified with the products he was selling.

“Whether that product was good or bad, it wasn’t my product. I didn’t believe in it whole heartedly,” he said.

The business consists mainly of Campbell, his wife, his stepson, Darius, and his stepdaughters; although, occasionally other family members will lend a helping hand.

“He’s (Darius) the only one who’s willing to wake up in the morning with me,” Campbell said. 

Part of running a family business is relying on one another’s strengths. Campbell’s wife, for example, is good with the money, his stepson is good with organization, and so on.

The food truck model is working well for them, Campbell likes the mobility, “I can go places, I can be where the people are,” he said.

Although there’s probably barbecue sauce running through his veins, if he decided to settle down and open a restaurant it wouldn’t be barbecue. 

“It would be an accumulation of all the things I’ve learned since I started doing barbecue and since I got into the restaurant and food industry,” Campbell said.

His top goal would be making it a place for everyone, “it would be a place for people to just come and relax and hang out,” he said.

Despite being in a competitive industry, Campbell encourages anyone with an interest to give it a shot. 

“There’s definitely room for more,” he said. “It only makes it better.”

Campbell derives his passion for his business from customers.

“My favorite part about all of this is probably the interaction with the consumers,” he said, then he pointed to where Darius was working behind him. “Having him here with me is a huge plus for me.”

Campbell is excited to teach him the things he won’t learn in school. As a college drop out himself, he’s no stranger to the things the world teaches that can’t be learned in the classroom. 

“I get to teach him how to be an entrepreneur,” he said.

Campbell headed off to college after high school graduation, but he never settled in. 

“College just isn’t for everyone and I realized early on it wasn’t for me,” he said.

Instead of school, he entered the work force and began to work on his skills as a salesmen. “The things I didn’t get in college the hard work will make up for,” he said.

He’s a firm believer that the community should support each other, “Support your neighbors and your friends; they’re your schoolmates, your kids are on the same football team or baseball team, you go to the same church. Everywhere you live, there’s a local market, a farmer’s market, some sort of local trade show, there’s a showcase for local business somewhere near everybody.”

Currently, Uncle Troy’s BBQ can be found at the Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday markets in Salem “We’ll try to be more places as time goes on but that’s where we are right now,” he said.

To book Uncle Troy’s BBQ for catering, email Campbell at [email protected] or call 503-505-8504; they post barbecue pop up’s on Instagram and Facebook as Uncle Troy’s BBQ. Campbell can serve events of around 150 to 200 people, but they plan to go bigger as time goes on.