Hovering around the familiar but modernized, wood-laden tables of Bud’s Classic BBQ is owner Jason Paetzold. He’s likely the first person to greet you once you shake the trance induced by the smoky-meat aroma emanating from the kitchen.
Paetzold has been in Columbia for about a year. In his past, he owned a chain of breakfast restaurants called The Big Biscuit in Kansas City. He hails from West Texas, so barbecue culture runs through Paetzold’s veins. He remembers times when he, his father and grandfather, the restaurant’s namesake, would split a single Coke while devouring some ribs. Now, he wants to share the feeling barbecue has given him all his life with Columbia.
“Jason is hands-down the hardest working restaurant owner I’ve ever worked for,” says Matt Albrecht, Paetzold’s chef, via text. “His passion and dedication for providing our guests with a great dining experience is truly inspiring.” Paetzold plans to cater more and has dreams of starting a supper club, a monthly event in which he’d barbecue fancier items such as salmon or lamb. Vox caught up with him to chew the fat about his barbecue joint.
Where did the idea of Bud’s come from?
Bud’s isn’t so much about barbecue as it is about what my grandfather represented. We grew up in a dusty part of West Texas, and it got so hot in the afternoons that he would go to a little coffee shop every day and drink iced tea. People would drive from all around because they were either out on farms or ranches and pretty isolated. They didn’t have social media; they wanted to catch up with each other and get together. That’s what makes food so special. More than barbecue, I just wanted a place that anybody can walk into and feel welcome. For everybody who’s either away from home or now calls this home, we’re going to just treat them like family.
In Missouri, Kansas City and St. Louis are known for their barbecue. Why choose to settle down in Columbia?
What makes Columbia special is you’ve got Shakespeare’s, you’ve got Harpo’s, you have these places that are just iconic. And I hope to have this stay on long after me. This barbecue, it’s not trending — it’s been around for ages, and it’s the one food that truly is American. Outside the state of Texas, you’ve got the Carolinas, and you’ve got Missouri. And after that everybody is just a far, far cry away. I’m happy to be around people that value good barbecue. I’m just bringing a little different twist to how we do it.
What’s the most important part of making barbecue?
Staying up all night, managing a fire — you only do that kind of stuff if you’re passionate. Meaning that we’ll spend 24 to 36 hours on a piece of meat that you may crush in three minutes. But we’ll do that every day because it’s just what we love. You know whether someone makes furniture or leather goods, any type of craft, people really fail to understand how much work behind the scenes goes into it for the finished product. And a true craftsman doesn’t really care because we do it for the beauty of the craft.
For those wanting to try Bud’s, which menu item would you recommend?
Well, brisket is king. We love cooking ribs; we love cooking everything. But there’s something magical about a brisket. It’s a piece of meat that we could probably cook for another 100 years and never perfect it the way we want to. But when it’s done right, there’s nothing that compares to Texas-style brisket.