Crestview is a city in Okaloosa County, Florida. Crestview is a principal city of the Fort Walton Beach. It’s the county seat of Okaloosa County and is one of the highest points in the state. A thriving and busy community, and that is where we find Darryl Williams who operates Pop Pop BBQ & Southern Foods LLC. He shared a few thoughts about barbeque and business with us.
Lang: How did you chose the name, Pop Pop BBQ & Southern Foods LLC:
DW: I wrote down a lot of names that I thought would be easy and catchy to remember. You know, something that would roll off of your tongue. Customers would say go to XXX, you will not be disappointed. It took me several weeks to decide on a name. Then it hit me why not use what my grandkids call me. It was easy to say and simple to remember. Pop Pop BBQ &. The Southern part is from my roots being born and raised in rural Northwest Florida.
Lang: Where are you located:
DW: Crestview, Florida, Okaloosa County on the Emerald Coast of FL. All of the
locals call it “LA” Lower Alabama since the county adjoins Alabama.
Lang: Anything special or historic about where you are located or nearby:
DW: We are located along the Florida Panhandle in the heart of the Emerald Coast with sugar white sands and emerald, green water of the Gulf of Mexico. Also, what’s unique about the county is agriculture in north of the county, Eglin Air Force Base in the middle and urban coastal cities on the Gulf of Mexico. Eglin AFB encompass the largest portion of the county and is the largest active military base in the world. All branches of the military are located at Eglin AFB.
Lang: What drove you to start this business:
DW: The starting point for me being the oldest of the four kids and had to help with cooking whether I wanted to or not, and everything else. Those were the good old days! I’ve been a cook from childhood to now. I’ve been cooking over fire for more than 40 years now. From a fire pit to store brought cooker/smoker to 55-gal drum grill to propane smoker to a Lang 84D Chargrill, I’m a barbeque cook for life. Now, from my family, to friends, to co-workers, to everyone in between have encouraged me to open a business. This is how the business was born.
Lang: So you were cooking and barbequing before you started:
DW: I was born and raised in Madison County, Florida which adjoins the state of Georgia. We were raised on the family farm and learned to grow and eat off of the land. The older men of the family would cook just about anything on a homemade grill, in cast-iron pots or fire pits. Yes, I’ve been cooking, grilling, and smoking meat in a smokehouse before thinking about starting a business.
Lang: Do you have a partner
DW: Not on paper but my immediate family works with me when needed. We all need help in life and my business needs help for large catering events. Generally, my wife and daughter are my go-to business partners.
Every meal served with the love of cooking
Lang: What makes your business different from other barbeque businesses:
DW: We are a family business that has a southern flare and with our Georgia/Florida country roots we are real country cooks. Grilling/smoking food is what we are known to provide. Our motto is “All Wood Cook, Nothing Better!”. We bring that correctly ‘cued cherry, hickory, and pecan wood flavor to the table with every meal. I must admit the real difference is the Lang cooker. There is no one in our area who comes close to providing the flavor it produces. Every cook is done for flavor, great taste, uniqueness, and most of all cooking with love!
Darryl keeps meals movin’
Lang: What is most challenging about running your business:
DW: The challenging part of my business is maintaining the required documentation of running a business. All businesses have this unpopular and required duty of invoicing, paying bills, paying taxes, purchasing supplies, and working with customers to develop a menu they want for their event. It’s the part of the business that doesn’t have all the glitz and glamor.
Also, during the pandemic, it’s been a challenge with food pricing and availability of certain foods and supplies. It’s been a huge challenge for the last couple of years to stay close to the going box stores such as fast foods, and restaurants with pricing.
Lang: Do you have a restaurant, a food truck or other:
DW: We are a catering business only. I offer mobile catering / personal chef business license, Food Safe Certification, Serv-Safe Certificate, and a Vendor’s liability insurance that I use when I cater onsite. Also, I have access to brick-and-mortar building when needed. It’s been a success for me and my business.
Lang: How did you go about starting the business including personal experiences and licensing and other governmental issues:
DW: I started my business with filing the required documents with the county, state of Florida and the IRS. Once I had all of the required documents, I created a web page and all of the social media outlets. Liability insurance is a must, and we provide information to all clients prior to signing a contract.
Lang: Tell us about your business with some additional background details
DW: We are a local catering business that is mobile to serve our county and even surrounding counties. We are family owned and oriented to producing quality food with ever cook. We do not feed subpar food; we take pride to cook food like we are feeding our family.
Barbeque eggrolls. Amazing!!!
Lang: What were the pitfalls you didn’t expect when you went into business:
DW: My dislike of the business is keeping up with food prices and having to shop around to keep pricing feasible for our clients.
Lang: What would you recommend to someone new getting in the business:
DW: You must know the clients you are planning to cook for and those that live in your community. Certain people prefer this or that verves the more traditional folks. You will need to be flexible with menus and taste for each client you are cooking for.
Lang: When did you first purchase a Lang (What model and why):
DW: My Lang smoker is an 84D Chargrill that I purchased in 2016. I chose this model for food capacity, ease of use for large cuts of meat. It is one of the best go to cookers built, in my opinion. Lang is the best reverse flow cooker. My client’s love the flavored food that comes from it. Occasionally, I could use a 108 Deluxe and I plan to purchase one in the future.
Lang gives lots of cooking space
Lang: What features do you like best about Lang as a brand and a product:
DW: The flavor profile is the best that I have ever experienced with a Lang. It will produce a great product with care of the cooker every time.
Lang: What can you share about the Reverse Flow process:
DW: The reverse flow process is so easy to cook food with. It gives that even heat and flavor you want to deliver each and every time.
Lang: What is your main goal as a chef/cook
DW: My goal is to provide a safe, enjoyable, great tasting food that is demanded every day.
Lang: What are the favorite meals you like to prepare and why.
DW: I have several go to meals with each having its own flavor. So, it’s hard to say I flavor one over the other. But I love chicken, ribs and boneless ribeye steaks that the Lang produces. Ribeye steaks ranks the highest on my list. You can pair it with southern style potato salad with sides such as barbeque beans, green beans, or pole beans (seasoning blend style), corn (kernel or whole). This to me is a high-quality meal that any customer will love.
Lang: What can you share about the barbeque community as a whole:
DW: Everyone loves a good barbeque. In our community we have several events during the year and the top seller is of course barbeque. With such a diverse community we live in, barbeque is cooked based on serval backgrounds which have their own flavors and flare.
Flavor you can take with you
Lang: What type of wood do you flavor when cooking:
DW: I’m 100% Cherry, Hickory, and Pecan.
Lang: What would you like your customers or would-be customers to know about your business:
DW: I tell my clients that we always cook with “LOVE”. We take pride in the fact that we take our service seriously and that we always do the best job we can.
Lang: Can you share a recipe with us:
DW: We often cook egg rolls that are so simple to make. Take any barbeque meat you have on hand, add your favorite veggie and roll it up and deep fry them in some canola oil. Make sure to keep your fingers out of your mouth because you just can’t stop with just a few.
Lang: Any closing thoughts:
DW: I do regret that I should have started earlier in life; period. I look forward to the amazing experience of seeing people enjoy my food and service. I don’t cook to make a buck with making food look good. I cook with ‘passion’ and it shows with my product that is produced. Even if not immediately conscious, people will inherently know something’s missing. “Satisfaction” comes in many forms, for me watching people bite into the best barbeque they’ve had with huge smiles of approval—that makes it worthwhile. Plus, being a people person, I love to interact with customers, I’ve made many friends over the years and that’s a big plus.
Of course, that’s what builds revenues for the business. If you provide the best food possible your business will do fine!