Dickey’s is the nation’s largest BBQ chain, in “fast casual dining.” Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. is honored this year by food industry consultant Technomic as “Fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country.” Travis Dickey founded it in 1941, in Dallas.
Mike Wiemers owns and operates the site in Fletcher; it is not corporate-run. He was Huddle House senior vice president, overseeing over 400 of the 24-hour diners.
He said of Dickey’s, “We smoke barbecue nearly 24 hours a day — right here.” Patron Michaela Bryson of Arden likes the “actual smoked taste, and effort behind it.” She is among opening-day patrons familiar with Dickey’s, from its site in Asheville’s Skyland section.
Wiemers said he plans three more locations and is looking for one in Hendersonville. The Fletcher site is in Saint John’s Marketplace, at Saint John’s Road off U.S. 25 North. Part of it was a tea room.
Wiemers employs 23 people, and is still hiring. A room for banquets, children’s parties or meetings (with PowerPoint projection) seats up to 30. More than twice that many fit in space Wiemers will soon add next door, based on a verbal agreement. He plans outdoor dining. Dickey’s caters meals.
The energetic, affable can-do Wiemers family is absorbed in the operation. Mike and Joan’s eldest grown child, Nicole “Nikki” manages the Fletcher restaurant. She shifts there from the family’s Huddle House in Asheville’s Biltmore district, which her sister Meghann now manages. Nicole has managed a fabric store.
Their younger brother, Mike Wiemers, is assistant manager in Fletcher. He will manage the upcoming Hendersonville site. He ran a barbecue club as a student of Andrew College, in south Georgia. He recently worked as a welder. He custom-built a 10-pound smoker out of a stainless steel beer keg.
All three Wiemers offspring were born in the Ronald Reagan presidency, their mother proudly notes. The family is politically conservative. Photos on Dickey’s walls include of Reagan with Roland Dickey Sr., son of the franchise founder.
“Our barbecue is so good, you don’t need sauce,” the elder Mike Wiemers said. He noted the thrree BBQ sauces are Dickey’s original from Texas that is “not too spicy but has bite,” a sweet sauce, and a tangy vinegar-based WNC flavor.
“Vim and vinegar” describe this family, starting with him. “He works harder than anyone I’ve met,” Nikki said. “He has big plans.” Mike grew up in Moline, Ill., corporate home of John Deere tractors, then moved to Mississippi at 17 and later to Lake Hartwell, Ga.
In Dickey’s “I was looking for a strong brand that’s growing (941 sites) with excellent quality food,” Mike Wiemers said. “The food is superb. We have the best barbecue I have ever tasted. I loved it so much, I wanted to open my own Dickey’s near my home” in the Mills River area.
Meat includes beef brisket, pulled park, Polish sausage and honey ham. Side orders include onion “tanglers,” breaded okra, and a baked potato casserole that cushions spicier flavors.
Perks include free ice cream with purchase of a meal, young children eating free on Sundays with a paying adult, two televisions (U.S. Open tennis was on the other day) and piped-in country music. Gift cards were among give-aways, in the three-day grand opening last week.
Check dickeys.com, such as to order online. For more including employment opportunities, call Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Fletcher at 303-2190.