Name: Charles "Buster" Davis
Job: Owner of Buster's Southern BBQ
Hometown: Ventura, California
Education: Long Beach State
Charles Buster Davis, owner of Buster's Southern BBQ, welcomes visitors to Napa Valley's Calistoga side – the perfect place to beef up on barbecue before setting out on a day of wine tasting. Learn more about Buster, his journey and restaurant in the spotlight piece below.
After graduating from Long Beach State, Charles Buster Davis managed a fruit stand in Ventura County alongside Highway 118.
When his mother, at the age of 72, went to school to get her culinary degree, Buster wanted to build her a bakery so she could sell what she learned from her classes. He bought a small building down the road from his fruit stand and set up a bakery for his mom and his sister. Eventually, his brother asked if he could sell barbecue sauce alongside his family, which ultimately led to Buster’s first foray in barbecue, perfecting family recipes for dry rub, sauce and cooking techniques.
"My family has a long history with barbecue but my mother and sister's handwritten recipes really took our business to the next level," says Buster. "I still have the original written recipes that they wrote out. The beans, the coleslaw, the cornbread, the seasoning of the meat, the way it's prepared, the whole nine yards, it's all written out and I still have those notes."
Buster moved up to Calistoga spontaneously. A regular at his restaurant in Southern California, Peter Lang, would come in every Sunday and read the Los Angeles Times. One week, Lang stopped showing up and Buster got a call from him two weeks later. Lang was building a kitchen for Safari West, a wildlife preserve just north of Santa Rosa, and called up Buster because he remembered he had experience building kitchens.
After some thought and consideration, Buster packed up his bags and barbecue pit and stayed with Safari West for over a year before finding the location where Buster’s BBQ sits today.
Twenty one years later, and he’s still firing up the grill and serving hungry visitors from around the world. Many come for his famous tri-tip, beef and pork ribs and side dishes which run from beans, macaroni and potato salad, coleslaw and cornbread.
And just as Buster knows good barbecue, he also knows good music. Behind the parking lot of Buster’s is an amphitheater. That’s where Buster hosts weekly summer concerts with jazz and blues musicians from around the world.
"Here at Busters, we’re all about good food, music and atmosphere," says Buster. "There is something special about seeing folks from all different walks of life bond in one place, enjoying the simple pleasures of life."
Next time you're in Calistoga, stop by for some delicious barbecue and say hi to Buster yourself. You can often find him sitting outside the restaurant happily welcoming visitors as they come. Learn more about Buster's BQQ.
Stay tuned to meet more of Napa Valley's diverse tourism business community!
Buster's favorite thing to do in Calistoga: Early morning walks amongst the vineyards and rolling hills with his dog.