Jason Ganahl is the founder of GQue BBQ and a father of four. Simply put, Jason Ganahl is a successful and busy man.
But being busy didn’t happen overnight.
At one point in time, the Colorado father/BBQ maven was a single man working his tail off in the corporate world. As fate would have it, he’d meet the woman who he now calls his wife, with life taking Jason Ganahl on stops in St. Louis and California. It was during this odyssey period where Jason became curious about cooking.
His next stop? The Internet.
“I went online, and I found the Kansas City Barbecue Society,” recalls Jason Ganahl of his barbecue journey.
“I found out they put on these professional barbecue contests all over the country. I thought, ‘Holy cow, I can be a judge and I can eat the most amazing barbecue ever!’”
Slowly but surely, Jason was becoming busier. He was also becoming happier and fuller thanks to his weekend hobby of tasting the best barbecue the world had to offer as a judge.
Soon, he’d hunger for more.
“Being a competitive person, I thought it would be fun to get in on one of these contests,” smiles Jason Ganahl while talking to Shawn Walchef on the Digital Hospitality podcast in 2021. “So, I got into a contest and got my ass kicked. I got my ass kicked in the competitions for a good two years.”
A sucker for pain? Perhaps. More than anything, Jason was curious, competitive and anxious to get involved. Having a fun time the whole way and learning just the same, barbeque continued to make him busier and also happier.
“We took about two years and by about 2013 or 2014 we won,” shares Jason Ganahl about competition barbecue. “We won a lot. We won the team of the year out here and we got invited to a lot of really good invitational contests.”
By becoming a winner after two years of taking losses, Jason was excited, but he was once again curious.
“That’s where I really got inspired to open up a restaurant,” Jason looks back.
“It was never my dream to open up a restaurant, but by doing a lot of those invitationals I got to meet a lot of guys that had barbecue restaurants. They would share their revenue and what they were doing. I was amazed by the amount of volume, the amount of barbecue they were selling, the amount of revenue. I was really inspired by that to give it a shot.”
So, give it a shot he did. Jason Ganahl started GQue BBQ which now claims three locations in Colorado.
By learning from the friends he made through judging and participating in barbecue competitions, Jason has been able to build a successful business that stemmed from a weekend hobby. Learning the business through friends has inspired the now busy businessman to grow his business with friends just the same.
“What I learned through this entire process is that I want to do business with people I like,” notes Jason Ganahl on the Digital Hospitality podcast.
“People I like to the point where it’s mutually beneficial and they’re going to look out for me versus just the bottom line. I try to really do business with people I like more so than people who might have saved me a dollar or might be able to get it to me faster for a week or so.”
For a man as busy as Jason, the conversations with vendors are no longer just crunching numbers, it’s catching up with people he genuinely likes.
Following his curiosity and working with people he likes has allowed him to pursue and mend his passions even more. Jason’s love of sports has led him to networking with the Colorado Buffaloes.
“We feed the coaching staff every week,” says Jason Ganahl of the Buffalo football program. “I love sports and love being around the team.”
On top of that, GQue BBQ even operates in Empower Field where the Denver Broncos play. During games and concerts, fans can enjoy Jason’s takes on Chicken Wings, Stadium Nachos with pulled pork, and much more.
In only a short period of time, Jason’s love for barbecue, people and sports has allowed him to flourish. To do so, he’s had to network not only to thrive but also to survive.
“The BBQ isn’t going to sell itself,” Jason admits. “We’re not in Kansas City, we’re not in Austin and we’re not in St. Louis.”
Being outside of the major barbecue markets has made Jason Ganahl hustle not just in his area but also online.
“I started making videos about seven years ago,” Jason Ganahl says about his early GQueBBQ YouTube ventures. “Ironically, I taught myself how to make YouTube videos by watching how-to YouTube videos. I never really took it seriously, at first my goal was just to get 100 subscribers. We got to 10,000 subscribers.”
By teaching himself through other content creators and the rich resources of the internet, Jason was able to build his brand to an audience also obsessed with barbecue.
Like joining competitions as a judge, it all stemmed from passion and fun, not finances.
“You can’t get into YouTube thinking you’re going to make money,” says Jason Ganahl.
“It’s a passion project. I would do it on the weekends, but as my kids got older, I just didn’t have time to do it. YouTube loves consistency, so now I just fired my channel back up and it feels like we’re starting from scratch. I’m on YouTube every single day now.”
As expected, the daily grind for Jason isn’t just YouTube. Rather, it’s a variety of social media platforms that allow him to engage with a community that shares the same passion or region as him.
For Jason, being on top of his digital game is a mix of connection and metrics.
“Your online reputation is pretty much everything nowadays,” admits Jason.
“So, I look at Google and utilize that. I utilize the conversations I have with the employees that I have. I utilize the conversations that I have with the guests to utilize all the direct messaging that we get from all of our guests to kind of get a sense of where we’re at and what our perceptions are and in how we’re performing.”
When it comes to Digital Hospitality, Jason Ganahl is well aware of the power online resources give him and his business.
At first, the internet was the bridge for him to learn more about barbecue and become a judge at contests. Next, it was how he learned to make YouTube videos and build his brand. Now, it’s how he connects with his community and learns just how good of a job his business is doing.
So, what’s Jason’s advice for you when it comes to digital hospitality and building a brand online?
“Stop just putting pictures of food out there, people want to connect with you!” Jason said.
“You can’t let the fraction of people who will judge you determine your outcome. You’ve gotta think about the 80 percent of people who want to support you and want to see you succeed. Innately, I think people want to help people and it breaks my heart to see people too scared to put themselves out there on social media because of fear of other people.”
Fun and fearless, Jason is putting himself out there and putting the people who do care first. When you look at the growth, the proof is in the pudding — or perhaps the ribs.
These days, the father of four and owner of three G-Que BBQ locations is busier than he was that first weekend he judged a barbecue competition. Nevertheless, he’s just as curious and just as passionate.
That is time well spent.
Listen to Jason Ganahl on the Digital Hospitality podcast from 2021 right here on Cali BBQ Media online or wherever you listen and subscribe to podcasts.
GQUE BBQ LINKS TO CLICK:
- GQue BBQ Online — https://gquebbq.com/
- Jason Ganahl on Instagram @JasonGanahl
- Jason Ganahl on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jason-ganahl-3694044/
- Follow @GQueBBQ on Facebook
- Follow @GQueBBQ on Instagram
- Follow @GQueBBQ on Twitter
- Follow @GQueBBQ on TikTok
- Subscribe to @GQueBBQ on YouTube
Jason Ganahl has a passion for expertly-prepared meat, craft beer, and spirits. When he is not stoking the fire, he enjoys spending time his family and friends, and watching sports.
Growing up and living most of his life in Missouri, barbecue has been an important part of his life.
“I hope you enjoy eating GQue BBQ as much as I enjoy sharing it with you.” -Jason Ganahl
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