“Sweet Baby Ray”
Dave Raymond, aka Sweet Baby Ray, and Cathy, his wonderful wife, are lifelong Chicagoans with more than 29 passionate years of the barbecue biz behind them. As a youngster growing up on Chicago’s West Side (Best Side) Dave learned early on that life is not always fair or easy—a lesson that helped to define the friend, businessman, and person that he is today. Capitalizing on early success at Mike Royko’s Ribfest in Chicago, 1982, Dave and life-long friend, Mike O’Brien built Sweet Baby Ray’s into what today is the best-selling barbecue sauce in the country. Now a multi-faceted business operation, Sweet Baby Ray’s boasts two restaurants, a full-service Elk Grove Village location run with Mike and a barbecue “joint” in Wood Dale run with nephew, Duce, as well as two premier catering companies. Dave currently resides in Wood Dale, close to relatives and life-long friends, and spends much of his spare time with the barbecue community, still lovin’ the ‘que crew as much as ever.
Nancy Irlbeck is our fearless leader. Only the 2nd employee to join the Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce team, Nancy worked as the bookkeeper for 10 years before becoming the office manager when the company expanded into restaurants and catering. Before long, she was promoted to President. With her experience and her background, growing up in Wisconsin in a family that owned their own catering business for 30 years, it’s no surprise that she has got the know-how to keep us on our toes. Go Nancy.
Chef Dylan Lipe
With a Culinary Arts Degree from Rend Lake College and a vast array of culinary exploration under his belt, including extensive national and international travel, it’s his exceptional ability and endless zeal for food that turn our great ingredients into our spectacular dishes. Previously a Chef Consultant for Southern Illinois University’s Entrepreneurship Network, consultant for the Illinois Wine Industry, co-owner and operator of Minor League Concessions & Catering, catering specialist for banquets & “weddings in paradise” for Frenchman’s Reef Resort in St. Thomas, Executive Chef of Southern Illinois University’s Rent One Park, and caterer for headlining acts such as NFL Opening Day (Minnesota Vikings vs. Atlanta Falcons), MLB World Series (Denver, Colorado), Dancing with the Stars (2007), Elton John, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and the entire artist line-up for the Houston Rodeo and Concert Series (2008), Chef Dylan Lipe brings experience to the table. And being that his favorite dish to cook is “anything that makes people: mmm mmm good”—we’re ecstatic to welcome him into the family.
Larry (Duce) Raymond
Duce was destined for the food industry. Son of Chef Larry Raymond and nephew of Dave Raymond, the creators of Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce, Chef Duce grew up in and around restaurants, and began working in the food and service industry at the age of 12. Realizing his passion, Duce later attended Kendall College Culinary School where he graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts and was a member of Kendall College’s first graduating class to have completed a bachelor’s degree program in culinary study. Now, pouring his zeal into the Sweet Baby Ray’s & True Cuisine family, Duce manages and creates deliciousness on a daily basis. His specialties include Southern and Central American cuisine and, of course, barbecue– which he has perfected at such recognized events and venues as the Taste of Chicago, the Naperville Ribfest, and the Wrigley Field rooftops. Duce, Dave, and Dylan are KCBS Barbecue Competition teammates, where they represent us proudly and have gained recognition across many categories and events. Today Duce, his wife Sarah, and their daughters Madeline and Emma, reside close by in Itasca.
Director of Operations
Bob Nykaza, our go-to guy for just about, well, everything, makes our world go ‘round smoothly. An integral part of our team, and one of the nicest guys we know, Bob is a logistics extraordinaire. His 25 years experience in the Security Industry including seven years as Vice President of Technical Services, impressive knack for planning, and unwavering commitment to service and quality show in each and every event. And we can thank him, our construction manager, for our new kitchen—on time, on budget,
and very well done.
Director of Sales
Bob Krause is a genuine guy with smarts, charisma and drive. Hailing from a large family and a small community, Bob learned the art of event planning at an early age. After attending Bradley University and accumulating extensive sales and sales management experience from his family business, Bob joined the Sweet Baby Ray’s & True Cuisine team—quickly becoming Director of Sales. While proudly leading a sales team that boasts over 75 years cumulative experience, Bob still hones his own culinary and event-planning prowess— heading a competition barbecue team, cooking and planning
Thank you for your interest in Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue restaurants and catering company. We are passionate about what we do, and how we do it. We have a genuine love for our business, and a desire to share this passion with our clients and community.
Our multifaceted company includes two Chicagoland restaurants, as well as Sweet Baby Ray’s and True Cuisine Catering. The first of our restaurants, which was designed to help us develop a strong staff and to learn about the restaurant business, opened in 2005 in Wood Dale, Illinois. This barbecue joint is a small, 36-seat, counter service restaurant with an authentic barbecue feel, and delicious food to match. In 2007, our expanding barbecue ambitions led us to open a 225 seat full-service restaurant. This Elk Grove Village location includes a full bar, a private dining area, outdoor seating, and a separate carry-out sales counter.
Our commitment to these two restaurants has continued over the years, and has now come to include ventures into the catering business. Sweet Baby Ray’s Catering is a fun and approachable barbecue catering company that serves both social and corporate clientele. Our menus provide great variety to create personalized events that are consistently engaging and fun. In 2008 we acquired True Cuisine Catering, which specializes in elegant and creative off-premise specialty events and weddings.
Today we continue to invest in the growth and development of our current brands. Through our two restaurants we work to educate the public on the many different styles of barbecue around the country with our unique regional barbecue menu. Our catering services are expanding as well as we work to develop and perfect our diverse menus.
We have assembled this media kit to provide you with the most relevant background, and contact information regarding our restaurants and catering services. Enclosed you will find information concerning: general company facts, history, timeline, biographies, honors and awards, and media credits.
Dave Raymond’s BBQ Passion
“I believe people love to barbecue because it’s fun, it tastes good, and it reminds them of a special occasion—a family gathering. Barbecue becomes a tradition; eventually the meaning of the word evolves and becomes equivalent to friends and family.
My favorite thing about barbecue is the fact that the word, barbecue, is both a noun and a verb. I enjoy cooking barbecue and hanging around barbecue people. I like talking barbecue and tasting barbecue. I love going to all barbecue places, restaurants, ribbers, and competitions—I love it all. Barbecue is for me, that’s for sure.
I started Sweet Baby Ray’s with two thousand dollars, barely a high school education, and a dream. Now, with more than 29 passionate years in the barbecue business and the support of my family and friends, it’s no wonder I love barbecue so much. My love and passion for this company has been vital to the success of the Sweet Baby Ray’s brand.
We do the right thing for the right reason. Sweet Baby Ray’s values good people with great morals, because we live in a country where anyone can do anything and have all the success they want to have if they work hard enough.”
Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Restaurants and True Cuisine & Sweet Baby Ray’s Catering
249 E. Irving park Road
Wood Dale, IL 60191
(630) 238-8261 ex. 211
2005– First restaurant opened in Wood Dale, IL
2007– Second location opened in Elk Grove Village, IL
2008– Sweet Baby Ray’s acquired True Cuisine Catering
Dave Raymond, Partner
Nancy Irlbeck, President
Chef Dylan Lipe, Executive Chef
Larry “Duce” Raymond, Sous Chef and Partner
Bob Nykaza, Director of Operations
Bob Krause, Director of Sales
Catering and Event Consultants
Honors & Awards
1st Place Ribs, 2008
2nd Place Sauce, 2008
Westmont Illinois State Championship
1st Place Ribs, 2009
2nd Place Ribs, 2009
Business Ledger AABE
Winner Annual Awards for Business Excellence, 2009
Food Industry News Silver Platter Award
#1 Favorite BBQ Ribs, 2009-2010
3rd Place Ribs, 2011
In 18 KCBS sanctioned events we have won 34 awards including:
Two 1st Place Pork
1st Place Ribs
1st Place Brisket
Reserve Grand Champion, 2011
2011 Ranking: Within the Top 6 Percent, over 5,000 Teams
Record Ranking: Within the Top 2 Percent, 82 out of 3,500 Teams
In 1 MBN sanctioned contest, 2nd Place Whole Shoulder, 2011
Regional Barbecue Menu
Sweet Baby Ray’s Wood Dale Introduces Regional Barbecue Menu
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wood Dale, Ill. (November 2011)— Sweet Baby Ray’s Restaurant in Wood Dale has introduced a new regional barbecue menu. The menu offers different authentic daily selections from the great barbecue areas around the United States, all designed to please the palate, and to help educate the public on different styles of barbecue around the country.
Barbecue in America is terrifically regional. In order to bring all of the different flavors and styles to our restaurants, Sweet Baby Ray and Chef Duce Raymond traveled throughout America’s barbecue belt. They tasted and tested the barbecue fare, eventually forced to loosen their own belts a few notches, and were ultimately successful in their quest. They returned to Chicago with some great ideas, and set to work creating a new regional menu and original housemade regional sauces.
Memphis, Lexington, Eastern Carolina, Chicago, Kansas City, and Texas: all great places, with unique barbecue styles. Sweet Baby Ray’s in Wood Dale proudly offers a new regional barbecue menu that represents all of the country’s mouth-watering barbecue favorites. Our professionally trained chefs recreate the flavors that Sweet Baby Ray and Chef Duce discovered across the country right here in Chicago; one barbecue platter at a time.
Available from 11am until close. Featuring Memphis Monday, Lexington Style Tuesday, Chicago Wednesday, Kansas City Thursday, and Texas Friday. All platters $9.99. Sauces available for individual sale.
Social Media Campaign
Sweet Baby Ray’s Begins Social Media Campaign
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wood Dale, Ill. (July 2011)— Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue in Wood Dale is working to increase public awareness among consumers by becoming more active in the social media world.
Fans of Sweet Baby Ray’s will be delighted to have an insider’s look into the barbecue industry through our Facebook pages, and Twitter account. The accounts are updated daily to reach out to all of those interested in learning about our business, what we do, and how we do it.
Our customers will learn of restaurant promotions, updates on our competitive competition barbecue team, as well as grilling tips, recipes, and barbecue ideas from Sweet Baby Ray himself. Our goal is to create interesting and engaging content while sharing with our consumers our vast experience in both the barbecue business and community.
With the availability of our fellow barbecue restaurants and bloggers at our fingertips on Twitter and Facebook, it will be Sweet Baby Ray’s priority to engage in an active conversation with all members of the barbecue community. Our social media ventures will also become the primary way to be contacted by barbecue bloggers interested in our company.
Sweet Baby Ray Effect
Choice & Variety
Choice is a wonderful thing. We’d never want to stifle the creativity of your event or our chefs; therefore our menus offer a wide variety and choice. All options delicious, all options at a fair value.
We love food. We mean, we LOVE food. And we’d like to share that love with you and your guests. That’s why our talented chefs prepare only the freshest and most authentic food with the best flavors. Quality is the name of the game.
We’re an honest bunch that knows the value of a dollar and the value of your time, and our own. When we work with you, we work within your budget, expecting to exceed all expectations. It’s business with integrity.
Hard Work, Done Right
Service that anticipates guests’ needs and real professionalism are important to us, and we’re sure they’re important to you. We work hard to earn your business and take pride in satisfying all of your needs.
Impress Your Guests
It’s our responsibility to throw events that are consistently engaging, interactive, and fun, and we take that challenge very seriously. Your friends, family, or business associates will appreciate your unique event and the unforgettable Sweet Baby Ray’s experience. You’ll be able to expect some hearty thanks.
The Sweet Baby Ray’s brand connects people. Not only are we familiar and comfortable, we’re synonymous with warm, friendly hospitality and a good time. We give your guests something unique to talk about.
Our Passion means Your Satisfaction
We care mightily about what we do and how we do it. Our commitment to our values and to you is unwavering to ensure your absolute
Sweet Baby Ray’s Timeline
Chef Larry and Dave Raymond first enter Chicago’s Mike Royko’s Rib-Off
The two Raymond brothers win the second prize out of 700 contestants
The barbecue sauce business is incorporated
Mike O’Brien comes on board to help shape and grow the business
Dave Raymond and Mike O’Brien sell the sauce business, but retain the rights to the Sweet Baby Ray’s name for the purpose of opening restaurants
The first Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Restaurant opens in Wood Dale, Illinois
The second Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Restaurant is opened in Elk Grove Village, Illinois
Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue and Catering acquires True Cuisine Catering
The Sweet Baby Ray’s competition barbecue team, Duce’s Wild, wins first place in Ribs, and second place in sauce, at the Naperville Ribfest
Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Restaurants introduce a regional barbecue menu, offering different authentic daily selections from across the United States
Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Restaurants updates the menu to include old favorites and new intriguing entrées
The Sweet Baby Ray’s Story
My brother Larry and I started thinking seriously about Barbecue in 1982 when we first entered into Chicago’s Mike Royko’s Riboff. In 1985 we won second prize out of 700 contestants.
Over the years, slowly at first and with the help of friends and family, our hobby was turning into a business andwe incorporated in 1986. When my high school friend at Lane Tech, Mike O’Brien came on board in 1989, he helped shape and grow the business into the national brand Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce ultimately became.
In June of 2005, the first Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Restaurant in Wood Dale, Illinois opened. A friendly, 36-seat counter service barbecue joint designed to give us the opportunity to develop a strong staff and learn about the restaurant business. With the help of Chef and Partner Larry “Duce” Raymond, we introduced an authentic urban barbecue menu with a southern flair and a Cajun influence.
With the successful introduction of our Wood Dale location we were encouraged to open a larger facility. On December 18th 2007, Mike O’Brien and I opened Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Elk Grove. Our Elk Grove property is a beautiful, 225 seat full service restaurant, including a full bar, a private dining area, an outdoor patio and a separate carry out sales area. Sweet Baby Ray’s Elk Grove is a very comfortable place where families and friends come to enjoy special times and great food. We are all excited about our team and our commitment to Elk Grove Village and the surrounding communities…
In 2008, Sweet Baby Ray’s Wood Dale acquired True Cuisine, DuPage County’s top caterer, and obtained a Chicago Caterer’s license. Our goal is to continue to offer two great brands and build our catering business in DuPage and Cook Counties. Both brands have strong followings in both corporate and social events and True Cuisine has particular expertise in elegant off-premise weddings and creative, custom events.
Since the summer of 2008, when our competition team took first place in ribs and second place in sauce at the famous Naperville Ribfest, the second largest festival of its kind, we’re proud to have continued competing and gaining recognition in many KCBS and MBN sanctioned events.
In spite of the difficult economic climate, Sweet Baby Ray’s has been blessed and has continued to experience growth. Now in 2011, Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Restaurant and Catering Company in Wood Dale currently has several exciting new projects. We continue to invest in the development of our intellectual capital. We have hired and are training new sales staff to meet the increased demand for our catering products. We have recently introduced our new restaurant menu including a regional barbecue menu offering different authentic daily selections from the great barbecue areas around the US, including Eastern Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City, Texas and of course Chicago. We are also once again updating our vastly expanded catering menu, featuring far more than the barbecue that we are known for, demonstrating the breadth and skill of our professional culinary staff. Unique for an independent business like Sweet Baby Ray’s, as part of our serious commitment to excellence and truly great food, our highly trained culinary team includes seven professionally trained chefs. Our courteous and professional staff work hard to exceed your expectations and we think your guests will enjoy some of the best tasting food- anywhere.