Case Study: Bubba’s Q

When Al “Bubba” Baker figured out how to make one of America’s favorite foods—BBQ baby back ribs—easier and more convenient to eat with his patented boneless method, he knew he was onto something huge.

He was also smart enough to realize he couldn’t do it alone. Baker met with many potential partners, but it wasn’t until he sat down with Rastelli Foods Group that he knew he had found a partner worthy of his product.

Baker certainly made the right choice: After partnering with Rastelli Foods Group, Bubba’s-Q grew from $154,000 to $16 million in just 3 years.

Rastelli helps its clients in four major ways: product development, distribution, marketing, and co-packing services. Here’s a look at how Bubba’s-Q flourished by partnering with Rastelli Foods Group.

Why was this the right partnership?

Rastelli works with clients at any stage of their businesses, but especially loves getting involved in the early stages of product and company development.

“We like to help shape, mold, and develop,” explains Ray Rastelli III. “We see things all the way through and we like getting involved at the beginning so we don’t have to fix old problems.”

With more than 40 years in the meat business and having grown from a corner meat store to a global food service company itself, Rastelli understands the pressures and constraints of small businesses—and also how to effectively and efficiently expand.

Baker needed a company with a heart and soul, one that understood where he was coming from as a father and husband who needed to provide for his family. He also was looking for a partner who was able to share his vision.

“We were looking for a partner to sink some skin in—someone who saw the potential that this was going to be a big thing, even before it was,” Baker says.

Rastelli Foods Group delivered on every count.

What was Bubba’s-Q’s biggest challenge?

“The biggest challenge was purely the fact that they had a great idea with no one to manufacture it,” Rastelli III explains. “This was a product that had never been made before.”

What was Rastelli Foods Group’s solution to that challenge?

Rastelli Foods Group was not only able to manufacture the product that had never been made before, but it was also able to drive the cost down and mass produce it to be sold as retail.

“By evaluating the market, we were able to identify what customers were looking for and create exceptional value,” Rastelli III says.

Rastelli helped Bubba’s-Q evolve the original product—8 oz. boneless ribs without sauce in a package—into 18 oz. sauced boneless ribs with convenient heat-and-serve preparation.

More than that, the product cost less on the shelf and returned a higher profit margin to Bubba’s-Q.

How has the distribution of the Bubba’s-Q product evolved and improved with Rastelli Foods Group’s help?

Prior to partnering with Rastelli, Bubba’s-Q’s means of distribution was limited to sitting down and ordering ribs out of the restaurant that started it all in Avon, Ohio. If you didn’t live in the greater Cleveland area, you were basically out of luck.

After Bubba’s-Q appeared on Shark Tank, the product was put online with minimal success—only a few units were sold per week.

Then Rastelli Foods Group took over the fulfillment, packing, and shipping of the product. This enabled Bubba’s-Q to receive the coveted volume discounts necessary to make distributing a product profitable. The food giant also helped Bubba’s-Q launch a new website to make ordering seamless for consumers.

Rastelli didn’t stop there. The company quickly worked with its network of retail stores to put Bubba’s-Q on the shelves at big-name grocery stores and club stores like ShopRite, Albertson’s, and Sam’s Club.

Finally, Rastelli utilized its partnerships with food service distributors like US Foods to propel Bubba’s-Q into pubs, bars, restaurants, and casinos.

The bottom line? Rastelli took a product that was once only available in a small-town restaurant and made it accessible, attractive, and affordable for the entire country.

What is the biggest thing that the Bubba’s-Q brand has been able to achieve with the help of Rastelli Foods Group?

“Without a doubt, we’ve been able to achieve incredible growth,” Baker says. “We’re in more than 2,700 grocery stores, and we only entered the retail grocery business in January 2016. That equates to entering 150 stores per month.”