While out and about last fall, local residents may have come across a brown trailer and an orange-clad trio near Holiday West or Park City Credit Union. Those who took a minute to investigate a bit further, would have soon discovered the trio to be Merrill native Rich Seefeldt, his younger sister Katie Paez and brother-in-law Bobby Paez. The trailer is the home of Rich’s Amazin’ Blazin’ BBQ.
As Seefeldt explains, the concept for his BBQ venture was born in 2010, following a trip to visit Katie and Bobby at their then-home in Bobby’s native Houston, Tex.
“In Houston there is some type of barbecue place on every block it seemed like,” Seefeldt explains. “We happened to stop for lunch one day and I was just blown away. The food was just amazing! I decided making barbecue was something I had to try for myself.”
Upon his return home, Rich began experimenting with various recipes and cooking techniques and by the summer of 2014, he was ready to take his newfound expertise commercial.
“My first opportunity to give it a shot was at the Hodag festival in Rhinelander and it ended up going very well. My family came up there with me to help out, Bobby and Katie came up to help as well. It took a bit of explaining to folks at first,” Bobby jokes with a grin. “Some people were confused by what type of barbecue we had. Some assumed we had the type which is like sloppy joes. It was a bit funny to me, being from Texas we have BBQ and then we have sloppy joes!”
“It went great, people seemed to really enjoy our food,” Rich adds. “Our sales really exceeded any expectations we had and that encouraged me to keep at it.”
Seefeldt opened another booth at the Pork in the Park event in September of 2014 and kicked off his second season last June at the Merrill Makeover event, sponsored by River Valley Bank.
Bobby and Katie had relocated back to Merrill in October of 2014. Armed with plenty of encouragement and the promising inaugural season of 2014, the trio decided to go all-in with their new venture and Rich’s Amazin’ Blazin’ BBQ was born.
“The term Blazin’ has nothing to do with being spicy!” Katie jokes. “It’s just a reference to our smoker and the way we prepare our food. Rich is always goofing around with rhymes, and the terms Amazin’ Blazin’ just made for a perfect fit.”
“It was after the Merrill Makeover event that I really started considering upgrading to something more convenient and permanent,” Rich adds. “We did very well in sales once again and people continued to encourage us to do more locally, but it was a real pain constantly setting up and breaking down a booth due to having so much equipment and accessories.”
The trio’s answer came in September of last year when they discovered an 18’x6’ trailer for sale in Marshfield.
With their new trailer in hand and readily equipped, it wouldn’t be long before opportunity would knock again for the Amazin’ Blazin’ trio.
“I happened to be talking with Stacy Literski one day and she said she was having an issue with people driving fast through her parking lot,” Rich explains. “It just so happened I had the perfect idea to slow down traffic. Put my trailer in her parking lot! Stacy liked the idea and by October we were open for business!”
The three remained at their west side location through the month of October and finished the season in the parking lot between Park City Credit Union and Plautz’s Pub.
As the warm weather months draw near once again, the three connoisseurs of BBQ are excited and optimistic about their upcoming third season, due primarily to the outpouring of support from their customers and the local business community.
“We have already received so many invitations from area businesses and great feedback from our customers,” Rich said. “To have that kind of support along with having a regular customer base so soon is very encouraging for us. We can’t express enough just how appreciative we are for everything people have done for us and the support.”
“Merrill is pretty special in that way,” Bobby adds. “There is just such a great sense of community here. Being from a bigger city like Houston, there isn’t really that community feeling like there is here. The Merrill community is very supportive and so willing to help. They have reached out to us right off the bat, we are very thankful for everything.”
Katie, Rich and Bobby are very excited to bring their menu of traditional and creative barbecue options to the local community once again.
Along with traditional pulled pork sandwiches, the top selling “Pulled Pork Cuban” (French bread, ham and pulled pork, topped with swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and mayo) and “Pulled Pork Sundae” (cole slaw, smoked beans, topped with pulled pork in a cup) return this season. In addition, Rich’s Amazin’ Blazin’ BBQ will also be serving homemade smoked mac and cheese, baby back and spare ribs as well as new items including beef brisket, loaded nachos and loaded smoked potatoes.
The trio’s first venture of the 2016 season will be on Sunday at the grand opening of the Saw Mill Brewery.
“Come on out and join us!” Bobby adds, “We’ll be happy to see ya!”