The unassuming building at 809 W Broadway in Fritch, Texas is rich in history. It has been a café since the 40s and was one of the first businesses in town. Inside is a mural on the wall painted by the former owner’s mother, and it is still as vibrant as when it was first done. The building was bought and restored by its new owner, Jason Troutman, who has been featured in Texas Monthly three times for his award-winning food. Jason’s passion for barbecue and the chemistry involved paired with his dedication to go above and beyond make Smoke Rings Craft BBQ, LLC a hidden gem and definitely worth the short drive. He has gotten tremendous support from the community, and they are all glad the café is open again.
America’s SBDC at WTAMU consultant Ana Ramirez helped him develop a business plan and was just a phone call away when he needed assistance. We asked Jason if he had any advice for others who are thinking about opening a small business. “Be mindful of the commitment that it takes to operate and own a small business. You will do things that people don’t see, that your employees don’t see, when you’re there at 2 or 3 in the morning because something didn’t get done. It’s a lot of hard work, and you will get out of it what you put into it.” The biggest challenge he has faced so far is keeping up with demand, especially the demand for smoked queso, along with his expectations of keeping customers happy. The restaurant features a robust menu with daily specials that Jason sometimes comes up with on a whim.
We also asked Jason a few fun questions.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A paramedic. I was a full-time paramedic for 17 years on an ambulance, helicopter, and offshore. I was a safety manager as well. When I had time off work, I would enter BBQ competitions.
What is your favorite food to eat? What is your favorite food to prepare?
My favorite food to eat is seafood – crawfish, lobster, and fish. My favorite food to prepare is brisket because of the challenge and people mess it up the most.
How do you come up with your recipes?
Through experience and trial and error. I’ve named dishes after my wife and our 5 kids. Liam loves fried pickles so that appetizer is named after him. Monica’s Tachos are named after my wife.