Brian Golinvaux, Bus Ad ’96, is the mastermind of Lillie’s Q Sauces.
He remembers his father, a restaurateur, telling him: “Never go into the restaurant business.” Golinvaux managed to heed that advice right up until a few friends approached him with a business plan for a Carolina-style barbecue joint in Chicago.
With an award-winning chef already lined up, Golinvaux thought, “Hey, this might be fun.” Today he’s president of Lillie’s Q Sauces & Rubs, the consumer product offshoot of the critically acclaimed Chicago-based restaurants. The Lillie’s lineup is now available in more than 2,500 stores in five countries.
Golinvaux had no food industry experience when he took on this assignment. He majored in marketing and moved into media sales with a few small cable companies following graduation. He worked for CBS and Univision. “I loved what I was doing in media and advertising,” Golinvaux says. “I liked working with brands to help them grow their business. But I always had an itch to do my own thing.”
His entrepreneurial spirit and marketing acumen turned out to be the perfect recipe. For the sauce-peddler-in-chief, Lillie’s Q is a master class in marketing strategy. “This is about more than a restaurant,” he says. “We’re building a brand — one that’s built around a strong passion point: barbecue. It has this strange emotional connection to people. My job is to figure out how you take that beyond the brick-and-mortar walls of a restaurant.”
For Golinvaux, the secret ingredient is self-awareness. “Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know,” he says. “I learned a new industry; I still don’t have everything figured out.” — Chris Stolarski