No Waiting at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Independence
22 Sep 2020
After three years of searching for a region to relocate to, Gary and Anne Hogsett knew Independence was near the top of their list. They fell in love with the area and the downtown buildings, which they saw as investment opportunities. And after seeing a Backpacker Magazine article about nearby hiking opportunities, the couple knew they had found what they were looking for.
“I showed Anne the article and immediately asked what are we waiting for?” said Gary Hogsett.
Since moving to the Independence area in 2013, the Hogsetts have not been waiting for anything. Now, as the owners of five downtown buildings, including the Apricot Lane Boutique, their newest venture is a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit restaurant which opened on March 12 just as the COVID-19 crisis hit.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Like so many businesses across the country, the pandemic put a pause into their plans. After taking 15 months on a remodel of the building, formerly Calbert’s Department Store, the Hogsett’s were excited for a soft opening on March 12.
“We had three glorious days, with about 1,000 customers and lines of guests practically out the door from open to close,” said Hogsett. “Then the bottom dropped out as the stay-at-home order was issued.”
Hogsett did not want to let his employees go, especially since they had just finished training with a Dickey’s corporate trainer. So Hogsett continued the training himself, with a focus on takeout and delivery options for customers. While they did not draw much business with the stay-at-home order in place, Hogsett said he was impressed with how the community tried to help the new business stay afloat. And once the state allowed businesses to open in mid-May, customers slowly began making their way back.
“I know we will probably never see anything like that first weekend again, with so many curious customers stopping in to see the brand new restaurant,” he said. “But I think it is close to what we expected prior to the crisis and I’m optimistic we will be successful as the only barbecue place in town.”
The 5,000 square-foot restaurant is considerably larger than a typical Dickey’s and has an additional 1,500 square-foot indoor mezzanine as well.
“I can’t quite get used to the role of being a restaurant owner as it really does seem to consume your time 24/7,” he said.
Wonderful building stock
Hogsett’s background is in engineering, with a significant emphasis on restoring buildings. As he and his wife were visiting towns to relocate to, they were impressed with the potential in the old buildings of downtown Independence.
“I enjoy making old buildings better and more efficient and I really fell in love with Independence, because the turn-of-the-century building stock here is wonderful,” said Hogsett.
In an era typical of small towns dying out, Hogsett said he and Anne are happy to help Independence buck that trend. They have been impressed with how the whole town fully supports new business, and because of that, they have not met people who want to leave the area. The city’s Chamber of Commerce has an amazing love for the community, has many projects underway and can compete with any he has been involved with, said Hogsett.
“They understand opportunities are needed to make small towns great places to live,” he said. “And the flip side to the pandemic is there is a real opportunity to draw young couples to the area, especially those who can live anywhere because they work online.”
Continued renovation and growth
Assuming the COVID-19 crisis does not restrict further operations, the Hogsett’s plan to continue their focus on downtown Independence. Of the five buildings they own, three have been completely renovated and they are turning their attention to the fourth and fifth, which they intend to be apartments and retail space.
“Independence is such a nice area and it would be great to have people living downtown,” said Hogsett.