Corvallis, Oregon, the home of Oregon State University, has been voted a top college town by multiple publications over the years. A member of the Pac-12 with NCAA Division 1 athletics, athletes are constantly visiting the town to compete against the school’s variety of teams. Eric Howitt, owner of Cascade BBQ, worked for OSU athletics for years before focusing on his business.
“I’ve always enjoyed barbecue. Before I got into the barbecue game, I was an equipment manager for college athletics for about 20 years. I started off as a student manager in Corvallis at Oregon State University and I turned that into a 20-year career,” said Howitt.
After Howitt left athletics and opened Cascade BBQ, Howitt maintained the relationships he made during his days with OSU and started offering to cater meals for visiting teams.
“The winter months are slow, that’s the way it is for everybody, but as a way to make ends meet, I really just pushed post-game meals to people I knew in the athletic world in the Pac-12,” said Howitt. “I knew I would probably get the job because of our relationship, but I knew the food would get me the second and the third.”
Howitt caters meals for football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball, to name a few. Individual meals are packaged in containers and loaded into Delivery GoBags® for safe transport.
“Those GoBags are insulated, easy to manage and you can fit about 14 or 16 meal boxes in them,” said Howitt. “I’ve been using these bags for a good two years, they’re wonderful. We rely heavily on the GoBags.”
The coronavirus pandemic put a wrench in how Howitt previously operated, but he was able to successfully pivot once athletes began returning to town.
“Easily transportable meals are becoming more and more fashionable. We used to do buffets down by the locker rooms for the team and they would just build their meals as they go to the bus on their way to the airport. But now with covid and everything, it has to be much more secure in individual boxes,” said Howitt.
When business was slow overall during the pandemic, Howitt got creative and transformed Cascade BBQ’s dining space into a marketplace selling sauces, beer, rubs, marinades and local bottles of wine. He also set up an outdoor area with heating and organized special events to bring people out.
“Wednesday nights we have trivia with eight full tables packed in like 36 degrees,” said Howitt.
No matter what challenges Howitt faced, he took them in stride and came out stronger on the other side.
“I believe my background in athletics is really a driving force to it because you’re always wanting to get better. It’s always about the next game and what can we do differently to win. So, I’m always very open to suggestions, I’m very open to ‘what can we do better?’ There’s no finish line.”
Delivery GoBags are constructed with thick, sturdy nylon fabric and available in nine sizes to accommodate any delivery order. Contact your Cambro rep today to get started.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ADRIANA DESIDERIO IS THE DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER AT CAMBRO.