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Meet Trailblazer Kristen Davis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Davis.

Kristen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am the 3rd gen owner of KC’s BBQ. My grandfather opened KC’s BBQ in 1968 and he passed the restaurant to my father in 1989. I can remember spending countless hours in the restaurant with my father growing up. He taught me how to stuff sausage links and count money at a very young age. Although I consider myself a daddy’s girl, it was never my dream to take over the Family Business. The thought of not being a part of the family business changed in February of 2017, when the restaurant was destroyed by fire in the middle of the night. My family lost everything. A few weeks following the fire my father expressed to me that he need support with reopening and getting the administrative aspect of the business in order. At the time I had been successfully operating my own small business and was hesitant about everything that had to do with BBQ. I knew from watching him work 12 hours days that the restaurant industry was and is a monster! But he is my dad so I agreed and got to work! With the help of our village we were able to raise enough capital to rebirth our Legacy. I spent several months researching all that I could about how to open and operate a restaurant. Within one year, I was able to identify a new location, move us in, get the new BBQ equipment we needed to operate and bam we REOPENED in June of 2018. My father and I have been working together to create a BBQ empire and keep our legacy alive! Today we operate five days a week, we serve beer & wine, we have brunch & mimosas on Saturday’s and of course we have the best bbq in the bay.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Starting a business from the ground up was tough. I had a great product but no BBQ grill or restaurant. I had never run a restaurant before. READING saved me, RESEARCH saved me. I am blessed to have a supportive family and great friends. The biggest challenge I had was trying to get additional capital with zero restaurant experience. Lenders do not have confidence in lending out money to people that have no experience in that particular field. So I had to tap into all of my resources and ask for help. I am a very prideful woman and asking for help was hard. But the lesson in asking for help was actually learning each time I asked. Each person I spoke to was able to give me insight on so many aspects of business operations. I was able to expand my knowledge, get real-time help with capital, new ideas and advice. The advice I have for new entrepreneurs is never stop, always ask if you are unsure, read, research and don’t settle just hustle.

We’d love to hear more about KC’s BBQ.
KC’s BBQ is a 50 year old BLACK owned family business. I am the 3rd generation owner. The first Female owner. WE are known for our BBQ pork Ribs and our Hand crafted Links. Everything is always fresh! I am most proud of my Legacy. The city of Berkeley can speak to the Legacy that my Family has created. We are Berkeley and we stand in our Love for one another, thats what makes us great.

We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
I’m Female and I’m black and I am confident in myself. There are very few black women business owners in Berkeley, and even fewer business owners in Berkeley under the age of 40. I feel so awkward walking into a Berkeley chamber meeting, being the youngest and blackest in the room. Although Its a funny feeling I’ve grown to embrace it over the last year. I am very familiar with the operation of my business so I lead with a smile and stand in my own knowledge.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1235 San Pablo Ave
    Berkeley CA 94706
  • Website:
  • Phone: 510.526.6325
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @kcsbbq
  • Facebook: /kcsbbqberkeley

Image Credit:
Kristen Davis

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