Large, national barbecue chain to open in West Lawrence

Tighten up those apron strings, warriors. Get those tongs nice and limber. There’s a barbecue battle brewing in Lawrence, and one of the larger barbecue chains in the country is about to enter it. I’ve gotten confirmation that Dickey’s Barbecue Pit will be opening in West Lawrence in the coming weeks.

Dickey’s is taking space that has become available because there has been a casualty in the epic New York-style pizza fight in town. (I’m talking about a casualty other than my tie, which long ago said fuggedaboutit and now immediately dips itself in the marinara sauce to save me the time of doing so.) Dickey’s will be taking the spot at Sixth and Wakarusa formerly occupied by Johnny Brusco’s Pizza. Johnny Brusco’s closed in recent days, and Dickey’s was eager to take its spot.

“We’re excited to be coming to town,” said Sam Kafoure, who owns the Dickey’s franchise in Overland Park, and will also own the Lawrence operation.

Dickey’s got its start in Dallas in the 1940s and the grandson of the founder continues to serve as the company’s president. But now the company has grown to more than 400 restaurants which, according to Dickey’s, makes it the largest barbecue restaurant franchise in the country.

As for the food, Kafoure said he wouldn’t describe it as traditional Texas barbecue, which to me often brings to mind mesquite smoked brisket, a simple spice rub, and of course a table full of men clad in Longhorn burnt orange who use $100 bills as wet wipes, and watch spring football practices on their Rolex T.V. watches. (If you are interested, you of course can catch the pre-game show for the spring practice on The Longhorn Network.)

Kafoure said the barbecue at Dickey’s is hickory smoked on site, and will include a host of meats.

“We just focus on good, slow-smoked barbecue at a reasonable price,” he said.

The menu includes pulled pork, brisket, ribs, ham, turkey, chicken, polish sausage and a special spicy cheddar cheese sausage that is full of jalapeños. You can buy the meats whole, by the pound or as part of a combo platter or sandwich. Side orders include the traditional offerings such as baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, and even old-fashioned green beans with bacon. But the restaurant also offers more unique sides such as a baked potato casserole, jalapeño beans, and fried okra. The menu also includes stuffed baked potatoes, and something called salads.

And — holy smokes, order me a gross of cholesterol medicine — Dickey’s offers free ice cream with every meal. (Folks, I’m not a doctor, but I strongly recommend getting on cholesterol medicine. It lets you eat whatever you want, although it could do a better job of blunting the sharp chest pains.)

Kafoure said he hopes to have the restaurant up and running at 721 Wakarusa within six to eight weeks. When it opens, it will be the third barbecue restaurant at the Sixth and Wakarusa intersection. It joins Famous Dave’s BBQ, and Burgers by Biggs, which is more focused on burgers but does serve some barbecue from its sister restaurant Biggs BBQ. More barbecue is on the way in other parts of town. As we’ve previously reported, Biggs is opening a downtown location in the former Buffalo Bob’s Smokehouse spot in the 700 block of Massachusetts, and Hog Wild BBQ is opening in the former Blockbuster building on 23rd. Both locations appear very close to opening.