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Posted: 21st Nov, 2020

Our story...

It all started with a roadtrip…What began as a single restaurant in Chester, serving authentic barbecue style food inspired by the tastes of the American Deep South, has since grown to 14 Hickory’s across the North West of England and the Midlands. 

Why the southern states some might ask? Well, the whole story started over 10 years ago when our founder Neil McDonnell embarked upon what was a fairly haphazard trip across the southern states of America, during which time he made sure to eat at every barbecue joint that he could find, soaking up the passion of the South. 

Neil quickly fell in love with the Deep South, particularly its attitude towards food, drink and unbridled southern hospitality, and he knew that he had to share what he had discovered. 

A lesson in oysters on Bowen's Island.

Upon returning to the UK, Neil set out to scour the North West for a location that he felt would bring the concept he had in mind to life and do justice to his ideas. What he found was a neglected road-side building that would require a lot of love and passion to turn it around. And a year to the day after he returned from his roadtrip the first Hickory’s Smokehouse opened its doors to our guests.

One trip was never going to be enough. And, every year we travel to the southern states each year to get new inspiration. Last year, we travelled to South Carolina where we spent time with pitmasters, bar tenders and owners, and brought back ideas that our chefs and bar team have developed into new menu items, such as Collard Greens, Charleston Banana Pudding, and Irish Coffee. Our menu is testament to the 18 trips and 70 cities we have visited over the last decade and more.

A lesson from the best in South Carolina.
Smokin’ talk…

Authenticity is absolutely key for us and it all starts with our smokers. Anything good is worth waiting for, right? Our custom smokers take up to 12 weeks to ship and they arrive by sea (and the M6). Our Ole Hickory smokers come from Missouri whilst our Southern Pride smokers hail from Texas, and they settle right into the heart of our restaurants. Every measure is taken to make sure they feel at home – we’ve even taken off windows and doors to get them in venue.

It takes more than a smoker to make our meat ‘fall-off-the-bone’ tender though, Let’s just say “Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear aprons.” And, our heroes are our pitmasters. They have been trained in the art of barbecue with input from some of the best in the South. They literally smoke anything.

We pride ourselves on every detail of the Hickory’s experience being on point and that includes the pink band of colour that you will see on our meat. It’s the sign of barbecue perfection on meat when it’s been smoked low ‘n’ slow. It’s a sign of true authentic barbecue. It’s the pitmastser sign off and one of the most rewarding sights there is.

All about our barbecue…

Our menu has been carefully built around our smokers, with our guests loving the smokehouse classics. Our Texas style brisket that has been lovingly smoked ‘low ‘n’ slow’ for 16 hours, we have learnt how to smoke, carve and eat brisket the right way. Enjoy it carved to order with house slaw, skin-on fries, pickles and Tennessee gravy or packed in a sub with onions, sweet peppers, pickles and cheese – and don’t forget to dip it in our Texas gravy for the finishing touch.

For BBQ fanatics the Smokehouse Platter is the ultimate choice. It is packed with all the smokehouse classics – grain-fed Texas style brisket, Memphis style baby back ribs, BBQ baby back ribs, hand pulled pork, eight-hour smoked short rib, bourbon glazed chicken wings and our smoked pork, jalapeno and cheese sausage. It’s the ultimate smokehouse experience and when you can’t decide what to have it’s the perfect choice!

All the smokehouse classics in one dish.
Our guests…

We pride ourselves on knowing our Memphis ribs from our Kansas and for bringing new flavours and dishes to our guests – burnt ends and frickles anyone? But what makes a true Southern experience is the genuine welcome that you’ll receive.

Hickory’s is for everyone - we are a family friendly restaurant and we treat every guest like an old friend who we welcome into our home, or as we say ‘from no teeth to false teeth’. Family time is so important, and we have tried to think about our smaller guests too. For them, we have cinema rooms and popcorn, plus safe and secure outside areas with ping pong at many of our restaurants. So, mum and dad can sit back and relax knowing the kids are also having a great time.

A family friendly restaurant for all occasions.

We welcome groups of friends, whether for a meal, a drink at the bar, or to join us to watch sport. Sunday’s nights are dedicated to the NFL, and we have grown a loyal following over the past ten years. Our bars are a real neighbourhood hub, and we have got lots of guests who join us weekly for a drink after work. At any one time, you could have a family enjoying dinner, a couple on a date, a group of friends having a catch up or an extended family celebrating a birthday. It is this mix of occasions – alongside the great food and drink, and southern hospitality of our team – that see our guests coming back.

We promise that you will leave full and with a lasting warmth you only get from a true Southern experience.