Owen Jobson, MBA ’94: Owner/founder, Blue Rock BBQ

Owen Jobson, MBA ’94: Owner/founder, Blue Rock BBQ

by Irene Kim


With a solid work history in systems integration at Andersen Consulting, in operations and finance for United Airlines, and in finance at Cisco Systems, Owen Jobson isn’t someone you’d expect to see dishing out baby back ribs. But he has made good on his dream of starting up a barbecue restaurant in the heart of Silicon Valley. About a year after its launch, the Blue Rock BBQ has won several “best” local restaurant awards, has grown its monthly revenue by 15-20 percent (beating its first-year revenue target by 6 percent), and is poised to open a second location by the close of 2010.

Jobson has positioned his business as providing “the best barbecue in town, great value, and ease of use.” Offering items such as smoked pulled pork and Alabama-style chicken, Jobson draws on the Southern tradition of barbecue as “a celebration of flavors, aromas, and good times with family and friends.” But Jobson’s motto is “barbecue without borders,” and so the menu also features Cuban pressed sandwiches and Indonesian beef-pineapple skewers.

Jobson attributes the Johnson School with helping him develop the necessary skills for his startup. In addition, he notes, “I said in my application that I was going to be an entrepreneur — so I had to make good on that commitment!”

Jobson remembers Professor BenDaniel mentioning that one path to potential success is to replicate something that’s working in another location. “We grew up enjoying pulled pork sandwiches at Buddy’s BBQ in Knoxville, and thought that folks in San Jose might like something similar.”

Words spoken by Frank H.T. Rhodes, then president of Cornell, at the MBA Class of ’94 commencement, also resonate with Jobson: “A successful life can be marked by something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.” Says Jobson, “I remember this often, and would encourage folks to not wait too long to pursue dreams.”