Couple brings Texas-style BBQ to the ever-flourishing Bristol Borough
By Samantha Bambino
“If you don’t like barbecue, you’re not American.”
Samuel Guernsey, 11, may have strong feelings when it comes to his pulled pork and brisket, but you would, too, if your dad was a talented Southern chef who’s cooked for the likes of director James Cameron and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Many locals have already experienced the mouth-watering goodness that is Chuck’s BBQ at Bristol’s Italian Festival, but that’s just a taste of what’s to come in the next few months. Slated for a January 2018 opening at 2 Pond St., husband and wife duo Chase and Colleen Guernsey are adding their Texas-style BBQ to the list of up-and-coming businesses in the ever-flourishing borough.
Originally from the Lower Bucks area and a Conwell-Egan Catholic High School graduate, Colleen is excited to set up shop near her childhood stomping grounds. Her husband Chase, on the other hand, hails from Texas, though many of his younger years were spent traveling and honing his cooking craft.
At 18 years old, Chase followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and uncle and joined the U.S. Navy. While most of his comrades, according to Chase, avoided submarine duties, he actively volunteered to be the official cook below the ocean’s surface. Over the next several years, the young chef’s passion for food continued to grow as he completed an apprenticeship in Japan, served on the USS Greenville in Hawaii and even landed a job in Las Vegas doing what he called “mass production fine dining” where he served up to 6,000 guests a night.
Once his term was completed, Chase headed home where he took advantage of his GI Bill to attend Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Dallas, one of the finest schools in the country. By his mid-20s, he was working at a Texas country club cooking for weddings and golf tournaments. In the midst of his hectic schedule, Chase met Colleen through a mutual friend. History was made from there and the two moved East, currently residing in Langhorne.
“I’m an East Coast girl through and through,” Colleen said proudly.
Chase picked up a chef position at Peddler’s Village, followed by one at Draught Horse near Temple University. Though he was doing what he loved, the Guernseys saw an even better option.
“He was already working so many hours,” Colleen said. “We thought, he may as well just work for himself.”
And that’s exactly what Chase set out to do. With his Southern background, the couple knew they were meant to bring Texas-style barbecue up North. According to Colleen, the best barbecue joints are those “hole-in-the-wall” places where you grab what you want and go. For almost two years, the couple searched for the perfect spot for the comfortable, homey atmosphere they envisioned. During a spontaneous trip to Bristol’s waterfront with their sons Samuel and Tommy, they realized the ideal location was in front of them the whole time.
“This is definitely an up-and-coming area,” Colleen said.
The Guernseys signed the lease at 2 Pond St. in early August, and are in the final stages of approvals and remodeling, which will include a building-length window so guests can see the action happening in the kitchen.
The community got a sneak peek at what Chuck’s BBQ will be offering at the Italian Festival on Sept. 9, and they were not disappointed. With a consistent line all day, Chase and Colleen served attendees future menu items including pulled pork, chipotle chicken, brisket and a festival favorite, mac and cheese with their choice of meat on top.
Everything at Chuck’s, right down to the spicy “Trainwreck” barbecue sauce, will be handmade from scratch. In addition to what was served at the festival, menu items will include jalapeno corn bread, whiskey baked beans, ribs that, according to Colleen, melt in your mouth and if customers still have room, ice cream. A children’s menu will also be available with chicken fingers, french fries and hot dogs.
Though serving the hungry stomachs of Bucks County is surely a good deed, Chase and Colleen want to help beyond the scope of food service. As big supporters of environmental protection, all of the restaurant’s to-go containers will be eco-friendly. To reduce the number of bottles used, they’re working to install a clean water system outside the location so people can refill their own. They’re also finalizing an agreement where a certain percentage of proceeds will be given to the VFW.
In true Bristol fashion, the Guernseys have received a warm welcome from neighboring businesses, many of which are helping them get up and running such as Design Works, which will be renovating the outside of the building. The couple plans to hire locally as well, reaching out to the kids at Truman and Conwell-Egan.
Overall, the goal for Chuck’s BBQ is to create an atmosphere where everyone can bond over a good meal and feel like family. As long as Chase continues to pour his heart and soul into his craft, this shouldn’t be hard to achieve.
“A lot of people get burnt out easily. But this is passion I’ve never seen in someone,” Colleen said of her husband. “It’s artwork.” ••
For information, visit chucksbbq.com.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org