Many Capitol Hill staffers hope to make money as lobbyists when they
leave Congress, but two former GOP Senate aides have chosen a different
route. And it’s starting to pay off big time.
Hall and Brett Thompson, one-time colleagues in former Sen. Jim
Talent’s (R-Mo.) office, are the co-founders of Pork Barrel Barbeque,
and on Tuesday they rang the closing bell of the NASDAQ stock exchange
200 miles and a world away from Capitol Hill.
The partners were
joined in the bell-ringing ceremony by venture-capital investors from
the hit ABC show “Shark Tank,” where Hall and Thompson appeared this
fall and secured capital investment into their company.
idea for founding Pork Barrel Barbeque came to the staffers during a
late-night budget debate about pork-barrel spending, where Thompson and
Hall, who both hail from Missouri, were talking about barbecue. When
Talent lost reelection in 2006 to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), it seemed
like the perfect time to launch a company. After appearing on ABC’s
show, Hall told ITK that Pork Barrel Barbeque has inked an initial
partnership with big-box giant Costco, starting this spring.
two founders maintain day jobs in Washington, Hall (pictured here, on right) for the Heritage
Foundation and Thompson (left) for IGR Group, and plan to open a restaurant in
They got a taste of what cooking for crowds is
like this winter when they catered Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s (R-Mo.)
office holiday party. “We got reports back that the congressman had
really liked [the barbecue],” Hall said.
Hall credits their
time in politics with aiding them in the start-up market: “Running a
company is a lot like running a campaign,” he said. “You’ve got your
candidate/product, your voters/customers and your fundraising/investor
While the duo may make their fortune in pork, they’re looking forward to staying involved in politics.
“In fact,” joked Hall, “Brett is considering a run for the White House in 2016. Better watch out.”