Carson City BBQ
is Phil Hyatt and
Duane Felker’s crazy
dream come true.
“We were just two guys having a good time. We would go up to the lake (Lake Tahoe) and host a barbecue we affectionately called ‘Phil’s Kitchen.’ We cooked for anyone who showed up. Soon, we had lines of 40 or 50 people on the weekends. Talk about a dream come true! In 1996, there was a drought at the lake, so we decided to go to the Sparks rib cook-off. We decided we could do better and bought a cooker. The rest is history.”
-Phil Hyatt, a lifetime Carson City, Nevada resident.
Felker, a driver for Sysco Food Service, and Hyatt, owner of PR Doors and Glass, started educating themselves about all things barbecue. They discovered there’s more to a good sauce than a ‘secret ingredient’.
Felker bought several cookbooks. He figures, “… 15 of the silly things.” And, after learning the basics, he and Hyatt advanced into creating their own sauces.
“Phil would come over every Sunday, and we’d try this, and try that. We kept at it until we found something we liked.”
So what did it take?
Heartened by the encouragement of friends and family, Phil and Duane bought $20,000 worth of cooking equipment. And, in March of 1996, they headed for a competition in Phoenix, Arizona. As total green horns, the boys entered a whole new world and quickly discovered they had a LOT to learn. After spending another $5,000 on travel and lodging expenses they didn’t even make enough to pay the competition entry fee. Lesson learned.
They came home, put the equipment in Hyatt’s backyard, and didn’t speak the taboo word, ‘barbeque’ for months.
Then, a friend asked them to cater a wedding and they slowly began to regain their cooking confidence. In 1997, they entered South Lake Tahoe’s Horizon Resort Casino Best on the Mountain Cook-Off and won Best Sauce. Buoyed by that win, they returned every year and eventually won Best Ribs. In 1998, they entered the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off where they placed fourth for best ribs and garnered fifth place the following year. In 2001, Carson City BBQ won People’s Choice and Best Sauce at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. This prestigious honor marked the first time a team won two first-place events in the competition.
Since then, this crazy little idea and single cooker have turned into a mega BBQ business.
Carson City BBQ Company sells more than 12,000 bottles of sauce and rubs a year across every state as well as internationally. They cater 200-300 events a year of every shape and size. From a single barbecue to a 20-foot trailer filled with tents, grills, warmers, banners and cookers, the Carson City BBQ Company has grown year after year.
According to Hyatt, “Perfecting the rib as an edible piece of art is what keeps us cooking.”
Sadly, In 2017, Felker passed away suddenly, and Hyatt took the reins of the business. Since then, Carson City BBQ continues to honor Duane’s BBQ vision by winning the People’s Choice Award at the Great San Juan Bautista Rib Cook-Off in 2017 and 2022.