Dickey’s consistency, variety a winning combination

Taking a cheese lover’s favorite like creamy mac and cheese and adding slow-smok
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit – Nederland owner Raju Ali slices jalapeño cheddar kielbas

Texans take their barbecue very seriously. Just take a look at the numbers. According to CHD Expert, a firm that collects data and restaurant information for more than 14,000 barbecue restaurants across the U.S., in terms of total barbecue places, Texas leads the nation with 2,238 total restaurant locations and 1,931 independent locations. In fact, when considering the number of barbecue restaurants per capita, Texas has one for roughly every 12,000 people.

With so many barbecue places to choose from in the area, how do these restaurants grow their customer base?

Raju Ali, franchise owner of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit at 1629 S. Highway 69 in Nederland, says consistency is key. 

“We’ve been around since 1941,” he said. “We’re the largest barbecue franchise in the United States and now have over (530) locations.”

Although Dickey’s was named in Fast Casual’s 2014 list of “Top 100 Movers and Shakers: Restaurants,” and was Technomic’s “Fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country” in 2012, the barbecue joint was started as a mom and pop operation by World War I vet Travis Dickey in 1941, when he opened the first Dickey’s in Dallas.

According to the Dickey’s website, the restaurant, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, was truly a family operation with Travis working the block and Miss Ollie Dickey serving sandwiches. Space on the restaurant sign was rented out to help pay the start-up costs, and the menu was limited to beef brisket, pit hams, barbecue beans, potato chips, beer, bottled milk and sodas.

Dickey’s has not only has kept the quality of its meat consistent over the years, but the restaurant has also developed its menu to include barbecue offerings that may surprisingly delight customers who grow bored by a limited selection of choices at competing barbecue restaurants.

Beefy Mac, Bangers & Mash and Texas Frito’s Pie round out a menu that has many choices, including traditional barbecue selections like pork ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and chopped beef.

What we tried

Taking a cheese lover’s favorite like creamy mac and cheese and adding slow-smoked brisket is a winning combination and one that we greatly enjoyed. There’s just something about fusing tender barbecue and cheese that tantalizes the taste buds. We highly recommend it!

Nothing says Texas like a Frito pie. History tells us this Lone Star favorite may have been invented by Daisy Doolin, the Fritos founder’s mother and the first person to use Fritos as an ingredient in cooking, or Mary Livingston, his executive secretary. The Frito-Lay company attributes the recipe to Nell Morris, who joined Frito-Lay in the 1950s and helped develop an official cookbook that included the Frito pie.

But Dickey’s takes this Texas tradition to a whole ’nother level with their version called “Texas Frito’s Pie.” Dickey’s starts with corn chips, beans and chopped beef brisket and tops it with cheddar, onions and sprinkles of rib rub. Now that’s a Frito pie!

Looking for something a little different than your traditional barbecue dish? Dickey’s has you covered with its Bangers & Mash. Made of mashed potatoes and sausages, it is mostly eaten in the United Kingdom but is growing in popularity in the U.S. Although it is sometimes stated that the term “bangers” has its origins in World War II, the term was actually in use at least as far back as 1919, according to Encyclopedia Britannica Online. The term “bangers” is attributed (in common usage in the UK) to the fact that sausages made during World War I, when there were meat shortages, were made with such a high water content that they were more liable to pop under high heat when cooked. Modern sausages do not have this attribute. Dickey’s Bangers & Mash definitely made an impression on us. The juicy jalapeño cheddar kielbasa quickly disappeared from our plate, as did the baked potato casserole with it.

If you are more of a traditional barbecue lover, you can’t go wrong with Dickey’s St. Louis Style Pork Ribs. These are for the purists, Dickey’s says on its menu, but there is no need to be a hardcore barbecue enthusiast to enjoy them — trust us.

“We cook everything onsite, slow-smoked,” Ali said. “Recipe hasn’t changed since 1941. We’re not reinventing the wheel. Just keeping it old school.”

Dickey’s also offers catering and online ordering.

“We do delivery buffet, full-service. We do a lot of weddings. A lot of plants call us out for full service,” Ali said. “We pretty much open a restaurant in their parking lot.”

For the regular customer, ordering online is pain-free, Ali said. 

“It’s really easy,” he said. “You can go to dickeys.com from your smart phone, place your order, charge it right then and there, and all you have to do is come to the register and tell them your name, show your ID and pick up your food.”

Be sure to visit Dickey’s Nederland location Saturday, Dec. 3, to support the Southeast Texas Vintage Cruisers Toy Drive. This vintage car show competition is 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. with winners announced at 3:30 p.m. Bring one unwrapped toy for registration. Dickey’s customers who come out to the show can also enjoy a chopped beef sandwich with two sides and a drink for $9.99.

For more information about the event, call (409) 223-9152 or (409) 548-6629.

Don’t feel like cooking this holiday? Dickey’s is now accepting Christmas orders for smoked turkey, Cajun fried turkey, spiral ham and prime rib. Call (409) 853-1726 for to place your order.

Dickey’s is open daily from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.