August 8, 2022

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When German and Czech settlers began smoking the lower-quality cuts of their meats in their...

When German and Czech settlers began smoking the lower-quality cuts of their meats in their Central Texas grocery stores to make them last longer and improve the texture and flavor, they certainly had no idea that their technique would become a phenomenon. What started as a simple meal for cowboys and cotton pickers, eaten from the wax paper it came wrapped in, alongside other grocery staples such as onions, pickles, and crackers, has today become a culinary sensation spawning documentaries, cookbooks, and fans around the globe.

The peppery brisket and house-made sausage of the Texas south has become wildly popular in recent years, and no one has worked harder than Roland Dickey Jr. to bring the people what they want. As the third-generation leader of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Roland has expanded the original franchise from 90 locations to over 550, and in 2016 started Dickey’s Capital Group where he serves as Chief Executive Officer and manages the brand’s overall strategy and expansion. Like his grandfather and father before him, Roland Dickey Jr.’s drive lies in his desire to provide the masses with what they want: authentic, quality Texas barbecue.

With locations of the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise found in 44 states and 6 countries, Roland has certainly brought Texas barbecue to millions of people who were previously unacquainted or unable to access the delicious smoked meats and traditional sides. With the recent launch of the brand’s, Barbecue At Home e-commerce site, barbecue lovers across the country can now get home delivery of the same high-quality meats used in Dickey’s Barbecue Pit restaurants and smoke, grill, and cook some Legit Texas Barbecue at home. Barbecue At Home also offers an expanded selection of chef-curated meat delivery boxes, small-batch hand-made craft smoked sausages, Dickey’s rubs and seasonings, sides, and more.

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When asked how Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has managed to scale while maintaining its authenticity, Roland said it was because they still prepare things the way his grandfather and father did. They work with suppliers to get the best cuts of meat, use the same secret seasoning recipe from over 80 years ago as a dry rub, and always smoke them in real, wood-burning barbecue pits. Travis Dickey opened the original Dallas location of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in 1941 as the nation was emerging from the Great Depression. Although, according to Roland’s father, Roland Dickey Sr., the World War I veteran opened a barbecue restaurant simply because he liked to eat it. The comfortable warmth and homey simplicity of his restaurant turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. For 26 years, the restaurant’s simple menu of beef brisket, pit hams, barbecue beans, potato chips, beer, bottled milk, and sodas stayed practically unchanged, as social butterfly Travis chatted up customers and worked the pit while his wife Ollie assembled sandwiches and served up the meat behind the counter.

When Travis passed in 1967 he left behind a city mourning for the pit master of what had become a Dallas institution. His sons, Roland Sr. and T.D., jointly took over running the restaurant and soon sought to grow their father’s legacy by opening additional locations within the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Within just two years they jumped from one location to nine, and began to expand the menu through recipes developed by Roland Sr. to complement their father’s legacy. By 1994 they began franchising, and soon the restaurant’s trademark, “Legit. Texas. Barbecue.” was available outside the Lone Star State for the first time. Going by, “Mr. Dickey,” Roland Sr.’s big personality was the perfect complement to the big flavor of Texas barbecue, and he worked to promote the brand in store openings, on television interviews, and even through a cookbook.

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Having spent his whole life fully immersed in the barbecue world (his first car was a Dickey’s catering van.), Roland Dickey Jr. joined the company in 1999. After earning an undergraduate degree in business administration and gaining a broader perspective of the industry as a whole by working at other companies, Roland came into the business with ambition and worked his way through the company until he became president in 2006 and Chief Executive Officer in 2011. He sought to implement new technologies and strategies within the company that would better position it for large-scale growth, investing heavily in areas such as information technology, marketing, advertising, construction, real estate management, logistics, accounting, and field operations. This strategy allowed the company to grow exponentially, and by 2016 required a corporate restructuring that enabled the creation of Dickey’s Capital Group, a parent company for everything under the Dickey’s brand including manufacturers, real estate, metal fabrication, distribution companies, retail products, and the franchise business.

Today, Roland is still looking for new ways to bring Texas barbecue to the people. During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit was one of the first fast-casual chains to launch contactless delivery. Even today as restrictions have lifted and restaurants have reopened across the country, getting some Texas barbecue from a Dickey’s location is simply a click away through its online site, and with partners like Doordash. Their e-commerce site, Barbecue At Home, provides another way for families to get the same quality, but with the convenience of cooking it at home. The demand for these types of services has only increased since the pandemic, with the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Restaurant Industry 2021 report showing that 56 percent of adults said they were likely to purchase meal kits if provided by their favorite restaurants.

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The Barbecue At Home site provides busy families with an easy solution to weeknight meals, bringing restaurant-quality food to the kitchen so more quality time can be spent with family and friends. The website not only offers Dickey’s favorites, but also an expanded selection of chef-curated offerings from high-quality steaks to over 20 varieties of hand-crafted kielbasa sausage and a number of southern sides. The offerings arrive ready to heat and serve, and come with cooking instructions, recipe enhancements, and chef’s tips, leaving little room for error in creating a delicious meal with a small amount of effort.

The food selections available on Barbecue At Home are overseen by Head Chef and Vice President of Culinary Development, Phil Butler. “Chef Phil” oversees every product carried under the Dickey name including the company’s handmade artisan kielbasa sausages. He now runs Dickey’s Craft Sausage Company. Dickey’s selection of meats are USDA-inspected. Each cut is sealed and flash frozen to ensure every product is delivered when it’s most fresh.

Whether you’re heading to a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit restaurant for its authentic barbecue joint feel or looking to enjoy an easy meal in the comfort of your own home, Roland is working to ensure that the legacy of Texas barbecue is always accessible. Thanks to the largest barbecue concept in the world, authentic smoked meats and delicious southern sides are never more than a click away.