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Big Vic’s BBQ opens Turlock storefront
Big Vic's
Victor and Jill Rivas of Big Vic’s BBQ recently opened the catering company’s first storefront in Turlock (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

Name of business: Big Vic’s BBQ

Type of business: BBQ catering and restaurant

Location: 842 N. Golden State Blvd., Turlock

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday

Contact information: 209-596-2131

Specialty: Wood-fired meats

History of business:

Popular Turlock caterer Big Vic’s BBQ is trying its hand at dine-in retail after opening the establishment’s first brick-and-mortar location over the weekend.

Owners Victor and Jill Rivas first started Big Vic’s BBQ in 2012 and has since offered an array of homestyle meats, sandwiches, sides and desserts at everything from small gatherings to large events. Armed with a background in food safety and a passion for cooking, Victor was inspired to start his own catering company after he and his wife found a lack of local options when planning their wedding in 2011. Nearly a decade later, Rivas has expanded that effort from food trucks at events to now include a storefront in Turlock where the community can purchase meals no matter the occasion.

“I think it’s going to give a lot of people who have always wanted to try our food prior to booking an event the opportunity to do that. Even just the average person who wants to buy a rack of ribs can just come into the store now,” Victor Rivas said. “Later on, hopefully it moves them to eventually have us cater an event they throw.”

Big Vic’s BBQ is already a formidable force in the catering world, serving meals at 35 weddings per year and ensuring thousands at a time are fed at corporate events. Now, the new restaurant space has a visible meat counter where customers can watch their meats be sliced and even provides a small seating area for those who want to sit down to enjoy their meal — an experience Rivas believes has been missed in town since the Red Steer restaurant closed.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the small space (formerly a Portuguese bakery) has also served as a perfect “grab and go” option for the community since celebrating its soft opening.

“Last week we had a lot of phone calls come in for pick up, which is perfect right now while we figure things out and especially with everything going on and the reopening of things,” Rivas said, adding that an influx of City of Turlock workers stopped by during the restaurant’s first weekend. “It’s actually worked out to our advantage that people can come in and quickly get their lunch. Everyone likes the fact that they can get their food really quickly and head back to work.”

Rivas is excited for the community to try his cooking, he said. The variety of meats served at Big Vic’s BBQ are cooked over hickory and oak wood chips, which gives them a distinct flavor.

“I just like the sweet smell of oak and the strong, hard-burning density of hickory,” Rivas said. “All of our cooks last from six to 12 hours. Over that time, the oak and hickory provide a sweet, very mild smoke and gives us a good smoke grain on all of our meats.”

From tri-tip and ribs to brisket and pulled pork, the community now has plenty of quality meats to choose from whether they’re throwing a party or eating for one.

“We’re looking forward to giving the people the opportunity to try some good, made-from-scratch homestyle meals,” Rivas said.