NORWICH – Norwich is welcoming the summer opening and success of a new major restaurant and Texas barbecue joint, Dickey's Barbecue Pit.
Despite the recent economic challenges and changes in customer habits following the pandemic, the business has had a successful start since July. It is now getting ready to expand and offer a drive-through service for customers.
The owners, father and son Armando and Dave Cirello are experienced entrepreneurs in the community and operate two other local mainstays businesses, Fred's Inn and Park Place.
The men bought a building just south of city limits on Route 12 that was home to a former steakhouse.
They then invested a major sum and had the building updated, remodeled and painted.
The business hired dozens of new employees, grillers, smokers, waiters and other jobs, and now has about 20 staff members.
Dickey's Barbecue Pit is one of the largest chains in the United States but the owners said all the meals are prepared locally, with many of the meats taking more than 24 hours to prepare and smoke properly.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, located at 5698 State Highway 12 in Norwich, and can be reached at 607-373-4566.
Owner Dave Cirello said he wanted quality barbecue food that local people would like and be a success. He began researching and found Dickey's offered the best food and options for small business owners and so he began to invest in the idea.
“I was searching franchises and researching different ideas,” said Cirello.
Dickey's Barbecue Pit is a chain out of Texas, established in 1941, coincidentally the same year Fred's Inn was established. “Maybe it's a sign,” joked Cirello.
One of the reasons the partners selected Dickey's Barbecue Pit is because the restaurant cooks all its food on site from raw ingredients.
“Everything is smoked fresh daily, nothing is reheated. We absolutely do it all right here locally. We cook, we season, we smoke it, whatever – we just get the raw meat sent to us and we do the rest,” said Cirello.
The restaurant has a 350 pound smoker and many meats are slow cooked, such as brisket and pulled pork, which are often prepared overnight. There is also a full bar inside the restaurant.
By the end of the month Cirello said he hoped the business would be fully opened for a drive-through service, something he said customers wanted more and more.
Cirello said he did not like comparisons to fast food. Instead he said the services represented a flexibility in meeting increasing customers needs for things like delivery and drive-through, which are becoming exceptions even for regular restaurants.
“It's not fast food. It is good food served fast,” he said. “That's a lot harder.”
Dickey's Business Manager Drew 'Bear' Seiler said, “A lot of people prefer to have their extra time now, especially at lunch hours.”
As another example of how things have changed he also pointed out that ordering food online, with an app, was much more common now, compared to before the pandemic.
Bear said, “I think we are doing well. We've had a lot of good feedback from the community. Obviously there is good and bad, but we will work the bugs out. It takes a little bit of time to get all the kinks worked out, it's a normal process and we have done well at that.”
Cirello said the business was occasionally effected by supply chain issues and worker shortages but had learned to adapt menus quickly.
He also said the business had the benefit of a strong employee base to work with, thanks to the success and relationships from their other local businesses. He said it was not easy and some days it takes a lot of time and energy.
Seiler said the business was looking to hire more employees by the end of the month.
“We are grateful for the community reception we've received,” he said.