With 100 racks of ribs, Proud Souls Barbecue & Provisions is taking up its usual post at the 27th annual Frisco BBQ Challenge, which is back after a two-year hiatus.
“It’s just a great weekend,” said Chris Webb, managing partner of Proud Souls’ Littleton location. “Beer, bands, barbecue.”
The event, held on the Friday and Saturday before Father’s Day, is one of nearly 20 contests across the country that the retail store will compete in this year. Each one is an opportunity to demonstrate that Colorado, and Proud Souls specifically, knows what it’s doing in the world of barbecue, Webb said.
“It’s a great way to, obviously, showcase our talents, our business, our equipment — everything that we cook on and cook with,” Webb said.
Proud Souls Barbecue & Provisions was founded by Tony Roberts in 2017 with the goal of creating a one-stop barbecue shop on North Federal Boulevard in Denver. Before that, Webb said barbecue enthusiasts in the metro area like himself surfed the web for supplies. In May 2020, the business expanded by opening a second location just off of Main Street in Littleton.
“We thought there were more backyards, more customers, more families to be served,” said Webb, who joined Proud Souls in 2018. “So we just kind of wanted to establish a footprint to serve more of our Littleton, Parker, Highlands Ranch customers.”
At 4,000 square feet, the Littleton location is slightly larger than the Denver store but has the same feel. It features smokers, grills, pizza ovens, outdoor cooking utensils, sauces and rubs. It even has glass-doored freezers stocked with “the best of the best” when it comes to meat, including wagyu beef from Midland Meat Co. A testament to Proud Souls’ prowess, one wall of the Littleton location is adorned with trophies, plaques and ribbons.
“This isn’t a hobby that we just kind of picked up yesterday,” Webb said. “We work very, very hard.”
Webb’s had the barbecue bug ever since he entered his first event in 2011. He enjoys the camaraderie, the competition and bouncing ideas off of the other pitmasters he meets. That experience is part of what Webb wants customers to have at Proud Souls. A visit to the shop is a chance to meet people devoted to outdoor cooking.
The idea is to give folks “the tools, the equipment and, obviously, the knowledge to execute a great meal for their family and friends in their own backyard,” Webb said.
Each of Proud Souls’ 13 employees is passionate about barbecue and happy to share their expertise. The stores even offers classes on everything from brisket basics and tailgating quick cooks to competition barbecue techniques.
“We just want to give them not only just the tangible stuff,” Webb said, “but a lot of the intangible stuff as far as how to knock that perfect brisket out of the park every time.”
Webb said a barbecue supply store should be like a local barber shop or a beloved bar where the people who work there are familiar with their patrons.
“It’s more than just selling a grill or a seasoning or sauce,” Webb said. “We want to get to know you, your needs, what you like. … We want to generate customers for life.”