Watch out Phil’s BBQ — there’s a challenger in town.
Devil Dogs BBQ, a Vista-based catering company and food truck, is rising in the ranks in the local food industry. The company prides itself in delivering fine, Southern-inspired dishes to San Diego County.
But, Devil Dogs BBQ is unlike any other food truck one may see driving through the region. It’s owned by retired Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Putts, who named his business after the nickname given to Marines.
Putts, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corp after 20 years of service, said he grew up eating barbecue as a child in Eureka Springs, Ark.
“Being from the south, it’s just something you do whether you’re out or at home,” Putts said.
After joining the military as an 18-year-old, he traveled and sampled some of the best barbecue the country had to offer. He said the best barbecue he had was in North Carolina.
Using the knowledge he gained from his travels, Putts said he created his own recipes.
In fact, the retired Marine even participated in barbecue competitions before opening his business.
Now, Putts serves his dishes through Devil Dogs BBQ.
“Everything I serve is something I’ve come up with on my own,” said Putts, who even grows his own chile plants for his recipes. “I’ve been barbecuing for the last 15 years now.”
Putts, who also served in Iraq and Afghanistan during the war, said he didn’t just want to deliver good food to San Diego County residents.
He said he chose to retire locally after being stationed at Camp Pendleton because he wanted to expose people to high quality barbecue, which is rare in Southern California.
“I wanted to bring good barbecue here,” Putts said. “There just isn’t good barbecue around. The technique is really in the cooking. We use real wood smokers, while most barbecue places don’t.”
But the lack of Southern-inspired barbecue in San Diego County also presents challenges, Putts said.
“The biggest challenge is being able to get the business going,” Putts said. “This market isn’t used to good barbecue. People mostly want Mexican food. So, it’s a lot harder to promote my business and get people to try my type of food at my price point.”
Despite the challenges he may face, Putts is using the values he learned from being in the U.S. Marines to drive his business forward.
“The Marines taught me a lot about hard work,” said Putts, who started his business in 2013 and purchased the food truck in 2015. “It taught me about leadership, time management and drive. I do everything for this business. I do the cooking. I do the marketing. I do everything that needs to be done to keep the business going.”
Using that determination, Putts hopes to one day expand his business and open his own restaurant in North County.
“That would be my ultimate goal —to have a successful restaurant,” Putts said. “I just want people to try good barbecue.”
Devil Dogs BBQ offers mouth-watering barbecue dishes like brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and even hog. But, Putts said his biggest crowd pleaser is his macaroni and cheese.
“I get more compliments about my macaroni and cheese than anything else I have,” Putts said. “I like to have a little spice, a little heat in my food.”
Devil Dogs BBQ can be found at breweries and events throughout the region. It’s scheduled to be at St. Archer’s Brewery in Miramar on March 11.