Rick Atkins had a dream of doing something he enjoys as a way to support his family. It became obvious that whatever he did would mean serving food and getting to better know people in the community. This dream led Atkins to start a food truck – Big Stick BBQ. With Big Stick, Atkins aims to create a style of BBQ that’s unique to exactly who Rick is and serves the best BBQ anyone has ever eaten.

Though not known at the time, the adventure was set in motion nine years ago when Rick Atkins’ children bought him an electric smoker. Smoking meat quickly became something Atkins thoroughly enjoyed and grew passionate about. Those close to the Atkins family began frequently requesting he smoke meat for them. “I cooked meat for a lot of people over the years. This year, we decided to start cooking meat for ourselves,” Atkins says.

Rick is hard at work. Photo credit: Linda Atkins.

Getting their food to taste so good takes a lot of work. Atkins gets up at 2:00 a.m. every day to fire up the smoker, which he brought in from Texas. Once it gets going, he can sometimes get back to sleep for a couple hours before returning to prep food for the day.

Atkins seems to enjoy being a part of the food truck business culture. “There are a group of people I talk to on a regular basis like Big Trouble, JT BBQ and Cubano Cubano. All of them have been in the food industry for a long time and they’ve really helped me,” he says.

Big Stick aims to serve up the best BBQ anyone has ever eaten. Photo credit: Linda Atkins.

Atkins has enjoyed the sense of camaraderie that Whatcom County food trucks have.

Atkins loves that he gets to cook good food all the time, constantly meets new people and can collaborate with other local businesses. One example he shares is of an event held for the Seattle Seahawks Monday Night Football game at Overflow Taps in Barkley Village. “It was fun because we got to create a special menu.” With the awesome BBQ, brews and football, it made for a great night that was fun to be a part of.

While Atkins and his family enjoy running the food truck, they have additional dreams for their business in the future. They will strive to become more and more involved with events that are important in our community. Atkins shares that he would also like to launch a Big Stick BBQ location without wheels. “Ultimately, we’d love to have a brick and mortar restaurant here in Bellingham. We’ll always have the food truck, but we’d love that.”

Big Stick BBQ can be found at K2, Wander, Stones Throw and the Public Market each week. Make sure to stop by and try their brisket sandwich. Their schedule, menu and even the neat story behind their name can be found at bigstickbbq.me.

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