If you’ve gone through every recipe in the book during this pandemic and you’re looking for a home-cooked meal you don’t have to cook yourself, the Stroud family is ready with the rescue. Matt and Trisha have created Strouderosa, and they’ll deliver smoked meats and tasty sides, right to your door.
Matt became a foodie after he was furloughed in 2018. He’d been traveling the country for a decade, working America’s natural gas pipeline system from North Dakota to Louisiana, from Tennessee to Nebraska. While waiting for work to pick up again, he agreed to help friend on his barbecue food truck. Customers were asking for a spicier sauce, so Matt experimented with ingredients until he developed his signature Jalapeno BBQ sauce, which he then bottled and sold on pipeline jobsites. The product became so popular, it was picked up by Central Market and other outlets.
When the pandemic hit this year Matt was furloughed again, so he enlisted the help of wife, Trisha, and began smoking meats in their Lake Highlands home. Strouderosa sells brisket, pulled pork, chicken and turkey, and sides including loaded mashed potatoes, jalapeno creamed corn and “threeso” mac and cheese with 3-cheese queso. Trisha is their social media guru and chief marketing strategist, sharing the week’s specialties on Facebook and Instagram, while 10-year-old Maddon and 7-year-old Savannah help her make deliveries.
Matt (LHHS 1997) and Trisha (LHHS 1995), who married after reconnecting at a 10-year high school reunion, say they bounced ideas for menu items off friends before starting the business. Most recipes come from dishes made by their families over the years.
“I was cooking and barbecuing with my dad from the time I could reach the kitchen counter,” says Matt. “I have wonderful memories of making salsa with my dad, and that salsa was given as gifts to friends. People still ask for it to this day.”
Before COVID-19 hit, the Strouds were discussing opening a bricks-and-mortar restaurant in the neighborhood they love, but they soon realized the timing wasn’t right. Their home business was approved by the FDA over the summer, and porch drop-offs allow limited contact for the Strouds and their customers.
“The most challenging part of catering during a pandemic is the lack of face-to-face contact,” says Trisha. “Both of us are very outgoing people-persons. We enjoy talking with people. We miss the socialization that we would have had if we had a restaurant, but the support has been amazing.”
Customers, who place orders via Facebook, Instagram or website, have been loyal, Trisha says, and they’ve inspired the family to persevere when restaurants and retail all around them were closing for good.
“People understand these are not normal times,” says Trisha. “People want contactless delivery. People want to support locals and small businesses. We were so surprised that we have been blessed with all of the support. The most rewarding thing might seem silly, but it is when we receive texts, emails or comments on social media about how the customer’s kids enjoyed our food. It is wonderful when someone sends pictures of her one-year-old eating our Peas Out 2020 Black Eyed Peas. Or when someone’s picky kiddo ate our Greens. Or their 10-year-old craves Matt’s Turkey. We love hearing how anyone enjoyed our food, but when we hear about how kids liked something – it makes our day.”