When Travis Dickey decided to go into the restaurant business in 1941, the Texan had a clear vision of what he wanted to create, according to his great-grandson Roland Dickey Jr: "The most delicious slow-smoked barbecue." Seventy-seven years later, Dickey's Barbecue Pit is the largest barbecue chain in the United States, and its first international branch will open at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi next month.
In an exclusive interview, Dickey's chief executive Roland tells us more about the family-owned brand and the dishes we can expect to see on the menu.
Why did you choose to open a first international branch in Abu Dhabi?
We found a great partner in Serenity Hospitality, which approached Dickey’s Capital Group with the opportunity to bring our well-loved brand to an audience who appreciate traditional American food. When presented with Abu Dhabi, we knew it was the right choice as our first international location, because we share a joint love of high-quality, delicious and wholesome food, specifically mouth-watering barbecue.
What Dickey’s items we can expect to see on the Abu Dhabi menu?
Our 14-hour slow-smoked beef brisket, beef ribs, half chicken and turkey, and an array of smoked sausages, coupled with our sides such as mac and cheese, barbecue beans and waffle fries. Our UAE partner has also invested in three state-of-the-art smokers that burn the best hickory wood, all imported from the US. When the pits are smoking, the aroma of the hickory is mouth-watering, and it’s in keeping with the wood-burning pit we use to cook with in the US.
Will you explore regional flavours and ingredients – camel meat, perhaps?
We haven’t tried to slow-cook camel meat yet. However, we are very [keen to] provide our UAE customers with a range of delicious options. Stay tuned, we will certainly let you know.
Will you have any vegetarian options on the menu?
We have designed our stuffed baker [smoked potato] with vegetarians in mind, in addition to our sides, which include our famous mac and cheese, plus salads, barbecue beans and creamed spinach. Don’t let the fact that they are “side” items fool you; I have seen grown men struggle to get through them.
You have referred to your dishes as ‘comfort food’. What does this mean to you?
Wholesome, comfort food – the type of food you could eat every day knowing it will taste the same, every time. Back in 1941, when my great-grandfather started, it was a different time. Things were a lot simpler, but the love of good food was shared by family and friends. Today, our lives are different, and our family has expanded to include our franchisees from Hawaii to Abu Dhabi, but our focus remains steadfast on delicious, slow-smoked meats that are cooked to be shared. So it’s 77 years of heritage and authentic recipes that our customers can rely on each and every time they visit. We are proudly family-owned to this day, and our guests can feel that in each one of our stores, even all the way in the UAE, where there are further plans for expansion. Y’all will be hearing from us soon.
If you could describe the Dickey’s experience in three words, what would they be?
Legit. Texas. Barbecue.