Carl and Julie Wiest are the owners of Wiestside BBQ in Webb City, Missouri. The beginnings of their restaurant and their journey to business ownership seemed perfectly normal until they experienced great adversity that nearly sent their dreams up in smoke. 

Wiestside began when Carl started experimenting with a small, retail smoker. He shared the meat he smoked with his co-workers, who soon began asking him to cook for their family events. The new hobby quickly became a passion for the Wiests, who both loved cooking. They began developing and perfecting their own recipes and Carl gradually built a reputation for his signature smoked pork butt. 

The couple started a Facebook page to cater small events in the community for free. This gave them a taste of the restaurant business and they decided that they wanted to turn their hobby into a full-time occupation. In 2016, they decided to open a restaurant.

After searching for a future location for Wiestside, the couple found an empty suite in a strip mall on Rangeline Road. It had been recently vacated by a Mexican restaurant. The previous owners had left behind nearly everything the Wiests needed to open their barbeque joint, including kitchen appliances, tables, chairs, and checkout equipment. 

Although they had found the perfect place for their restaurant, they were still uncertain what steps they needed to take next. They admit that they had no idea what they were doing. 

The Wiests soon reached out to the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by Missouri Southern State University. Kenneth Surbrugg, an SBDC business consultant, assisted the couple through the process of registering their business with the state of Missouri and provided them with resources to help start Wiestside. 

The restaurant officially opened on April 28, 2016. The Wiests began slowly growing the business and attracted regular customers through long hours of hard work and dedication. 

The product of the Wiests’s efforts, however, was torn apart on January 4, 2018. After the restaurant had closed for the evening, a fire ripped through Wiestside. The back of the building was destroyed while the front suffered damage from smoke and water. The blaze forced the couple to close Wiestside. 

During this time, the Wiests began speaking with their insurance company, landlord, and vendors. Over a period of eight months, the couple received an outpouring of support and encouragement from the communities of Joplin and Webb City as they rebuilt. 

The Wiests say that while the closing of the restaurant was a painful experience, it was also one of growth. Wiestside’s temporary closure gave them a chance to take a step back and renew their perspective. It allowed them to review their operations and cut back on unnecessary expenses. The time the couple spent away from the restaurant also helped them realize that they wanted to adjust their hours of operation to spend more time with their family. 

The Missouri SBDC was there during the Wiests’ rebuilding process to provide support and resources that would help the restaurant grow once it reopened. When the couple was unable to attend an SBDC workshop, Surbrugg met with the Wiests outside of the workshop to go over the important parts of the lesson with them. 

Wiestside’s renovations were finished and the restaurant officially reopened in August of 2018. Their new hours have allowed the couple to focus on their family while they continue to do what they love. The Wiests and their restaurant can still be found on the corner of Zora and Rangeline, smoking meat and cooking with passion that has remained untouched by the fire.