“We Don’t Change”: An Appreciation of Hickory Stick Barbecue

During the month of June 2017, Hickory Stick – a barbecue joint located at 4448 Youree Drive in Shreveport – is throwing itself a birthday party. The locally owned, family-run restaurant is celebrating 40 years in business this month. If you drop in on a Monday during the birthday celebration, you can even have a free slice of birthday cake with your meal. But the average patron at Hickory Stick this month will not be there for the free birthday cake. They’ll be there because it’s where they’ve always eaten, and it’s where their parents or grandparents loved to eat, too.

“We have customers who we’ve known since before they were even born, and they’re grown now and have moved away to Dallas or Houston,” said Hickory Stick owner Lynda Petree. “When they come back to visit, they say: ‘It’s just exactly the same as I remember it.’ We don’t change.”

So, no kale salad, then?

“We have no kale,” Petree added. “We also have no quinoa. We don’t follow trends.”

A photo of barbecue
A two-meat platter with ribs and sliced beef from Hickory Stick, a barbecue joint in Shreveport.

As a woman who owns and operates a barbecue joint, Petree is in the minority. However, among her own staff she is in the overwhelming majority: Of Hickory Stick’s 16 employees, she told me, 15 are women. Women not only work the service line at Hickory Stick, they tend to the massive, wood-fired smoker, chop the brisket (which is smoked for about 16 hours and sliced ribbon-thin or chopped for sandwiches) and prepare the homemade sides. Many of those women have worked for the restaurant for 20, 30 or even all 40 years.

Petree also credits her patrons for the restaurant’s longevity.

“Our customers are sort of like family, actually,” Petree said. “We’ve been through so much together over the years, births of children and deaths of spouses, and all kinds of things. We appreciate them.”

A photo of Hickory Stick in Shreveport
Members of the Hickory Stick team strike a pose during a recent lunch service.

First-timer? Here are some tips for visiting Hickory Stick:

  • A chopped beef sandwich with a side of baked beans is the most commonly placed order. And it’s a very good, classic chopped beef.
  • On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, the restaurant serves some of the finest made-from-scratch chicken and dumplings you’ll ever taste.
  • Brisket is simply “sliced beef” on the menu board, and is shaved into a pile of thin ribbons, not sliced in the style that you’d expect to find, for example, in Central Texas.

Featured photo: Lynda Petree, owner of Hickory Stick in Shreveport, pauses for a photo at the woodpile. 

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