This post was contributed by Emily Clary, graduate student and talent management intern for the Division of Development and Alumni Relations.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing overalls or a suit; everyone loves barbecue.” This is a guiding philosophy for Christopher Belk (AB ’05, MBA ’13), the owner of Saucehouse BBQ–the No. 1 2018 Bulldog 100 business.
“Bulldog 100 is giving us the publicity and recognition in a market where it’s hard to be recognized,” says Belk. “I am so thankful and so grateful.”
A North Carolina native, Belk grew up loving barbecue. He attended UGA for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and later an MBA. Belk created the business plan for Saucehouse BBQ in one of his MBA classes, and because of his love for the University of Georgia, opened the first Saucehouse BBQ restaurant in Athens. Christopher’s original vision was to be a “fast casual” restaurant, but Saucehouse BBQ has expanded into catering and become a destination for watching UGA football games.
Belk is extremely proud of the recognition Saucehouse BBQ has been given through Bulldog 100 and looks forward to the growth of the company into Atlanta and other areas. We caught up with him on a busy afternoon between catering gigs.
On the benefits of a UGA education
“[My education] rounded me out and gave me the confidence to know that I had a good shot at starting a business. It really is so amazing to know that UGA really does support its alumni. When I started my business in Athens, the school was really great about supporting me.”
On going with the flow
“What I ended up doing was a lot different than what I set out to do. I originally was just going to open a restaurant, but now we’re one of the largest caterers in Athens and growing our catering business in Atlanta. Being flexible and willing to change the business plan and model has been the most important thing.”
On being recognized by Bulldog 100
“I couldn’t believe it! I had never been to Bulldog 100 and I didn’t know they were going to count down people in order. I kept saying to myself, “No way!” Everyone around me started getting excited. It was probably the most surprised and honored moment I’ve ever had… The best thing so far has been the free publicity. We are a small business and we’re investing every bit of profit into our growth. We are in Atlanta now growing our catering business and no one knows about us. We’re out there every day on the streets with sales people to let people know that we exist. [Bulldog 100] could not have happened at a better moment in time.”
On staying positive
“I’m a big believer that a big part of success is being positive. [Bulldog 100] puts you in a room of other positive, successful people. It doesn’t matter if you’re number one or number 100, everyone is proud to be part of it. I don’t know who wouldn’t want to be a part of this.”
Nominations for the 2019 Bulldog 100 are open through May 31, 2018.