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Chuckwagon Barbecue Launches Grand Opening for Small Business Saturday

The Dexter restaurant will offer brisket, ribs, and Southern-style comfort food beginning Nov. 24.

Dexter's newest eatery will open its doors downtown just in time to capitalize on holiday traffic during the annual Winter Festival on Saturday.

Hotel Hickman's Chuckwagon BBQ, located at 8050 Main Street next to Dexter Flowers, features everything from traditional barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, to Texas-style brisket, baby back ribs, and smoked sausage.

"Everything is made right here in the restaurant," co-owner Scott Thomas said.

Thomas, along with Ed Welch and Mike Harvey, have been operating a barbecue stand outside of the Dexter Mill for the past two years, and decided to expand their operation to a permanent location on Main Street.

The three restauranteurs signed a three-year lease of the building, owned by the Village of Dexter, in November.

"Once we heard the village approved our application, it's been busy, busy, busy trying to get this place ready to open," Thomas said.

Initially the restaurant will be opened three days a week — Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays — during the winter months. In the summer, the Chuckwagon gang will serve food at the restaurant as well as at its roadside stand on Central Street.

"This building is just big enough to accommodate our cooking year-round, plus we can showcase our sauces, rubs, and recipe books," Thomas said.

In a departure from previous tenants, the restaurant will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast includes eggs, fresh ground sausage or smoked bacon, cornbread and cowboy coffee.

According to Thomas, cowboy coffee is "strong coffee cooked over an open fire."

"You know the coffee is done when the spoon will stand up on its own," he said.

The restaurant will also offer lunch and dinner specials. In addition, barbecue pulled pork, chicken, brisket, and smoked sausage will be available for purchase by the pound.

Sides include homemade I-44 potatoes (a special secret recipe), cowboy beans, Cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, and a selection of fruit cobblers.

Despite a recent bout of ownership turnover at the location, Thomas, a semi-truck driver by trade, said he's not worried.

"Failure is not an option for us," he said. "We don't give up, and we don't foresee any problems. It's all about having a good attitude. We are going to be open, and we'll have fun doing it."

Thomas also has a background in food preparation and store management with Bob Evans Restaurants and the International House of Pancakes, which he said will come in handy with his new venture.

"We love it here in Dexter. Hopefully we can expand our hours and put some people to work in the future," he said.

For the restaurant's grand opening, the Chuckwagon crew will serve free samples of homemade chili throughout the day on Saturday. Hot chocolate and cowboy coffee will also be available.

"We've been working hard to get this place open. We'll have the complete menu ready to go for Saturday," Thomas said. "It just so happens that its Small Business Saturday. Everything is falling into place."

To order by phone, call 734-646-6261 or visit www.hotelhickman.com. The restaurant will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday beginning next week.

Anne Kornow November 24, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Wishing you all the best; looking forward to grabbing some food to go when we need it!
Silly Head November 24, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Can't wait - real food, real good !!
Walter November 25, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Drove through downtown this morning and have to say that the place has become quite the eyesore. I counted at least 4 signs and a pretty beat up chuck wagon out front. Is the wagon for marketing purposes or is that used as part of the business. Either way, do they have permits (sign and/or accessory building) to have it there. It just seems excessive when compared to the signage of other buildings downtown. How can the village give the owner of Dexter's Coney Island grief about some neon signs in his window, but allow this display to happen? I think the owner of DCI would have a legitimate gripe with how he was treated after seeing this. I know they're new and want to promote themselves, but it just seems like way too much to me. Are they getting preferential treatment because the Village owns the property? Anyone from the Village government want to comment on the amount of signage in use at this location? Or the use/location of the chuck wagon?
Butch Runyon November 25, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I had the pleasure of playing music for the Hotel Hickman's Chuckwagon BBQ and really was impressed with the small town quaintness of Dexter. Scott and the cowboys were excellent to work for, so it was all worth it to play in the coldest gig I ever did. Thanks to Scot Thomas & his pardners and Sue Balk for the reference. Butch WWW.facebook.com/butchrunyon
Nancy Powell-Caincross November 25, 2012 at 09:10 PM
I think it is great and am looking forward to trying it out! I love the wagon in front, looks great with the rustic tiny old "cop shop"! Best of luck for a prosperous business!
Kim McGrothers November 27, 2012 at 04:42 PM
We live in Ohio and heard about it and can't wait to come to Michigan to try out this new place! I know the owner so I know it will be great. Good luck Scott and crew!
Marilyn Wilkie November 28, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Walter, you have a lot of gripes here. Did you go to the Village government yourself about them or just gripe here. It looks fine to me by the way.

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