Spotter Up is built on the belief that if there’s a problem, there has to be a solution. If a solution cannot be found, then one has to be made. When I contacted owner Hueyrab Silkie about his business Grunt’s BBQ and Easy Co I got to learn that he too follows the Latin proverb, “I will either find a way or I will make one.”
Hueyrab, or Rab for short was born in Ukraine, lived in Belarus with his family for a long moment, and then moved to the United States in order to obtain a better life. He was all of 14. High school and college were places that shaped his mindset. He was imprinted with the understanding that, “You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.” He decided to be part of the solution. I definitely felt his core beliefs dovetailed nicely with Spotter Up and the articles we like to write.
We spotlight people who serve our nation; they can be military, or emergency responders or a combination of things. For Spotter Up we love anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to make things better.
I thought Rab was a good choice. He serves others, takes time to build friendships, works to network others for synergy and hopes they’ll succeed, and he spends more time trying to fix rather than fumble-up things.
I asked Rab about the genesis of his idea for Grunt’s BBQ.
That’s how most good food ideas get started right? Rab didn’t get to eat one night after a long shift. Riding home on his motorcycle he had the luxury of time to think. Those minutes ticking away in his head lead him into realize that many of those who serve the public don’t always get a chance to eat a meal; and if they do get a chance to eat, it’s usually not healthy and rarely ever hearty. Cops, firefighters and their ilk work long hours, holidays, and even weekends; day in, day out and every year. Many military members bust their butts too and are gone for long periods of time. Rab wanted to reach them as well and provide tasty fare while they trained before going on deployment.
The idea for Grunt’s BBQ didn’t erupt quickly like popcorn over high heat. It was just a kernel of an idea simmering in his noggin. Rab thought about it for nearly a year. All around the city, police officers and military members work and train. His well-intentioned goal was to provide them with wholesome and affordable meals. $5.00 would get them something robust and warming on those cold nights when the snow and chill came in. $5.00 would cover a tasty meal for those who had a short respite after training under the hot sun. The focus for Grunt’s BBQ was, is and will always be for those who serve and have served. They call it wholesome, fulfilling food. Their focus is typically on BBQ, smoked, grilled and Cajun styles of items.
He turned to a good buddy of his; Kurt Delia of Delia Tactical for advice. Kurt, no stranger to start-ups, provided his friendship and mentoring to Rab and gave him full support. Rab first got a chance to serve others by getting into public safety. He enlisted in the service, then got out, and decided he missed it too much. He got back in to the service.
Someone gave him a good piece of advice, “Rab, if you want to stay in the law enforcement field then get into port security.” He’s glad that he did because it allowed him to be well trained and immersed in learning how to handle diverse problems, while having limited equipment and tools. The stuff you need to do your job won’t always be there when you need it, so learn to improvise, and drive on.
Even when the group was disbanded and restructured Rab was able to use his talents and desire to work elsewhere. During Hurricane Katrina operations Rab ran into an Army rotary unit. He was approved for a transfer and his goal was to stay on the pilot track. However, he was told in order to gain that opportunity he had to be part of a crew and cross-train with them. Upon training as a 68 Whiskey (Medic) he realized he loved being on the hoist and being in the back. His choice of career was made.
When Rab’s not working his full-time job, he’s working on Grunt’s BBQ. Rab has been playing with food since he was little. Most of it as he stated, “Was really horrible.” Thankfully he spends time experimenting on how to make palatable dishes. The food is passed around and once they decide on the plate, they name it. GI Sloppy Joe, Enola Gay. The OD Lloyd is named after a Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) member. Rab wants to give back because he feels he’s received a lot. In February, Rouge American threw out a challenge, and Hueyrab decided to take it on. The challenge was to have you and your buddy carry each other for 2.2 miles, to raise awareness for veteran suicide and PTS. Talk about embracing the suck.
As Rab would say, “I’m with 934th Security Forces. About as grunt in the Air Force as you can be.” He might be joking but carrying a guy on your back does happen down-range. Events like these helps you get a feeling for what its like to deal with the ‘suck’. No matter how much he and his buddy Herb were hurting, they knew guys with PTS were hurting far worse. Being a medic, cooking for others, and doing challenges to raise awareness are just a few of the things Rab does to serve others.
Though the Grunt’s BBQ team has grown, the GBBQ team are usually working a full-time gig somewhere. When they have time the team works hard to develop the business. Rab wants to be a good leader. He was never a grunt but he looked at the name ‘grunt’ as the kind of worker he wanted to be; a hard working beast. Many of the team who contribute are in combat arms roles so Grunt’s BBQ was perfect for a name. Everyone jumps in to help and take up the slack. This builds cohesion and long-term success.
I asked Rab what kind of advice he’d give to a veteran looking to start a business. Rab said, “Take the risk, take the plunge. Start the website, get your name out there. You have to take advice and good business advice.” He states he’s not a good business man but he is very willing to listen; half the battle in running a good establishment is sussing out info. Rab is not afraid to seek out guidance from those who have built their own businesses.
Grunt’s BBQ wants to provide simple, affordable. Field expedient grub that tastes good. They are working towards getting a truck. Another component of Grunt’s BBQ is Easy Co. They make efforts to provide people with tested equipment for the warfighter and emergency responder. If you get a chance take a look at their site.
Many of us identify ourselves by what our job roles: fireman, police officer, Infantry, Chef, Cook. Identifiers are so important in building relationships. We find like-minded people who are like us. I asked Rab how he saw himself. “Father,” he told me. “I choose to see myself as a father. I have two children. I want them to be a good citizen, but they can be a cook or whatever they want to be in life.” I think that’s a pretty good way to see things. We have a role to play in life, and being a parent is a very important role, because you are teaching and serving others; this is what Rab likes to do.
He tries to lead, and hopes others will try to lead too, instead of passing the buck and collecting all the credit. If you are in the Oconomowoc, Wisconsin area look up Grunt’s BBQ or give them a call and see if they can serve your group. A good group to support. Here are some marks of a servant leader:
- Be Resourceful; work with what you have at hand to help others.
- Give your time, even if is limited.
- Build relationships and help others build their relationship to get ahead.
- Serve those who serve and even serve those who don’t.
- Set the example.
- Take Risks.
- Be a good role-model.
- Don’t make excuses for your failures and don’t blame others.