Barbecue BrothersApr 01, 2023 ● By Lisa Sciortino
By Lisa Sciortino
It is not unusual to see people lined up outside the doors at Hutchins BBQ, on Preston Road in Frisco, before the place opens daily.
That’s to be expected when a restaurant has been named one of the best barbecue joints in the Lone Star State by the experts at Texas Monthly – a designation it has garnered not once, not twice, but three times in the past decade.
Hutchins BBQ is the only barbecue restaurant in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to hold that distinction.
“It’s something we’re real proud of,” says Tim Hutchins, who, along with his older brother, Trey Hutchins, owns and operates the Hutchins BBQ locations in McKinney and Frisco.
Barbecue quite literally courses through the men’s veins: They are the sons of a longtime North Texas barbecue restaurant chain owner and grew up working in the family business. Both went on to spend years owning and operating barbecue places separately before joining forces nearly a decade ago and going into business together under the Hutchins brand.
“He’s my brother. I love him on a personal level, but I would say our work relationship has been nothing but business,” Trey Hutchins explains of the pair’s dynamic. “We have the same common goals and that is to be the best barbecue business — we used to say in Texas, we used to say in North Dallas, but we want to say in the world because it’s that big now. We feel we can accomplish that.”
Don’t discount this duo’s ambition: Seeing as how the businesses not only survived but thrived following a pair of fires at the McKinney restaurant and experienced an uptick in business during the pandemic, attaining barbecue world domination may not be so farfetched.
Building the Business
In 1978, the Hutchins brothers’ father, Roy, founded Roy’s Smokehouse in Princeton. Several other locations followed in ensuing years and his sons were members of the staff.
“He definitely taught us the importance of hard, hard work,” Trey says, noting that even as a young boy, “As soon as we got off from school, we were changing clothes and going to make barbecue sauce and potato salad. He put us to work very early.”
When Trey was 18, he says his father wanted to open another Roy’s location. Trey and another brother “were like, `We’re gonna do Hutchins’” BBQ, he recalls. “Dad was like, `You boys are gonna go to work for me,’ and I’m like, `No, Dad, we’re gonna be partners.’ We had the entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. Obviously, we got that from our Dad.”
The McKinney location of Hutchins BBQ opened in 1991, when Tim was just 11 years old.
“When I was young, I’d always tell my grandma, `I’m not doing barbecue’” as a career, he recalls. Although he played football in high school, “I started realizing I wasn’t the best athlete,” and determined that attending college also probably was not in the cards for him.
Ultimately, going into the barbecue business made the most sense, Tim says, and by age 22, he took over ownership of Hutchins BBQ in McKinney.
“I love the pits. I love doing it,” Tim says. “Of course, there was a learning curve, especially at that age, but I love doing it. You’ve got to dedicate yourself to something.”
Around 2009, he says, the craft barbecue movement, which focuses on using higher-quality meats and ingredients, was gaining traction. It wasn’t long before his own interest was piqued, and he began participating in “barbecue tours” as well as building relationships with some well-known pit masters and others in the industry in Texas and beyond.
Following a 2012 fire that closed the McKinney location for five months, Tim says, “I kind of rededicated myself to the craft” of barbecue by using more “premium” products such as prime brisket and by sourcing “some of the best ribs on the market.”
When the restaurant reopened, he says the business experienced a significant boot seemingly overnight. Less than a year later, in 2013, Hutchins BBQ received its first nod from Texas Monthly. “Our business just shot up from there, but we were prepared for it.”
In 2005, Trey became the owner of Randy White’s Hall of Fame BBQ. (The small chain of restaurants bore the name of White, a customer and longtime Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle.) One of the restaurants was at Preston Road and Main Street, in what is Hutchins BBQ’s current Frisco location.
“We did a really good business for a long time,” Trey recalls, “but I had seen what the craft barbecue scene,” was experiencing. “I’d seen what Tim was doing and where the (McKinney) store was going and where he had taken it.”
By 2014, Randy White’s Hall of Fame BBQ “had pretty much run its course,” Trey says. The brothers decided to team up under the Hutchins BBQ name. They initially repurposed the Frisco location primarily to fill the many catering orders they received and serve lunch on a few weekdays (it’s the reason a sign above the doors still reads “Open to Public”).
Within two years, dining expanded to include Fridays and Saturdays and, in 2020, the restaurant began opening daily for lunch and dinner.
Trey credits Tim for recognizing early on that “we could do craft barbecue at a high volume, seven days a week. … He knew he could do it out of one store but, looking back, we couldn’t have done it much more than 20 hours a week” due to the demands of Hutchins’ catering business.
“Putting out that quality (product) and making sure we’re keeping the brand at a very high level, that’s what brought us here today,” he says.
Room to Grow
These days, Tim serves as the company’s president and Trey is vice president. The former tends mostly to the McKinney location while the latter oversees the Frisco restaurant.
“I believe that’s why our relationship has worked so well: We stay in our lane,” Trey explains. “It’s not that we don’t have disagreements, but there’s very few things that we ever disagree on that usually within a phone call or maybe a couple of hours of conversation” they can’t fix. “We make it work at all costs.”
In 2017, Hutchins BBQ received its second Texas Monthly stamp of approval, followed by a third in 2021 – the same year the McKinney restaurant was damaged by a second fire and forced to close for eight months.
The blaze boosted business at the Frisco restaurant “tremendously,” Tim says. “This is the busiest store now. … We had all of our customers coming over here for eight months, so that kind of creates new habits.”
It also underlined the need for a bigger footprint in Frisco: Plans are in the works to expand its back-of-the-house space by about 4,000 square feet, including additional pit space. Meanwhile, a large pit room is under construction at the McKinney restaurant.
As for opening additional restaurant locations later, “We would never say never,” Trey says, adding, “It’s not in our future plans and I would say it’s probably not in our three-year plan but … we’re growing internally.”
Sticking to Tradition
Hutchins BBQ has and continues to receive accolades for its impossibly tender, juicy brisket, spicy house-made beef-and-pork sausages and Original Texas Twinkies (brisket-and-cream cheese-stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon), as well as its 14 scratch-made sides. (Also, definitely don’t miss the peach cobbler, banana pudding and soft-serve ice cream that are served free of charge to dine-in customers.)
Nevertheless, Tim Hutchins says, “We’re always striving to be better.
“I think there’s always room for improvement without having to change the whole recipe,” he says, pointing to current barbecue trends that have seen some pit masters infusing Tex-Mex and even Asian flavors into their recipes.
“These chefs are coming in now because they’re seeing the barbecue craze and they want a piece of it,” Trey says. “They’re doing amazing and … you’re getting some flavors that are, like, wow.”
The Hutchins, on the other hand, “want to be traditional. When people are coming from anywhere in the world and stopping here, they’re going to get traditional barbecue —Texas barbecue,” he says.
Tim says the restaurants intend to remain focused on serving “real traditional barbecue. All of our sides, they’re home-cooking-type sides” including green beans, mac and cheese, potato casserole and pinto beans.
“We’re trying to be considered one of the best (barbecue restaurants) in America and it’s not just to say we’re the best. You want to take a lot of pride in what you do — the craft — and it’s a good feeling when you’re putting your heart and soul into something and dedicating your life to it.”
Lisa Sciortino is managing editor of Frisco STYLE Magazine.