Owner Jaime Gonzalez said most of his regulars have followed him to the new location, but a lot of customers are discovering the Hickory Pit for the first time even though the restaurant has been in town for more than four years.
“Business has been pretty good,” Gonzalez said. “We’re getting a lot more traffic here, which is what I was looking for. I also wanted a change of scenery. I wanted to switch things up. I wanted a simpler look.”
Gonzalez has decorated the new restaurant with cowboy-themed photographs to emphasize the down-home barbecue dishes that come hot from his kitchen. He’s even working on building booths by hand to augment the restaurant’s rustic feel.
“People kept telling me that if I was moving to a new place, I should really dress it up and make it fancy, but that’s just not me,” Gonzalez said. “I want to keep things simple. I’m a simple guy. That’s how I like things, but not with the food. The food has got to be good. I only buy the highest quality meats that I can get. I never hold back when it comes to the food.”
Brentwood Hickory Pit is still home to its famous sandwiches and steaks. Gonzalez said the top sirloin remains one of the favorites. And it comes at a good price. The 16-ounce top sirloin dinner comes with soup or salad, a choice side and a dinner roll for $15.75.
The tri-tip sandwich is also a favorite, which Gonzalez credits to his homemade barbecue sauce. He’s created several sauces over the years and is currently working on a new one – a spicy yet sour sauce – now that he’s at the new location.
For breakfast, Gonzalez recommends the omelets, especially the house omelet with bacon, mushrooms, avocado, and cheddar and jack cheese. He’s also introduced a series of Mexican dishes such as tacos and burritos just to change up the menu a little.
Gonzalez has been in the restaurant business for 25 years. He started off as a cook working for the Lyon’s Restaurant and worked his way up to manager before branching off on his own.
“I love to cook,” Gonzalez said. “I knew I wanted my own restaurant, but I can’t leave the kitchen. I want to make sure that each meal that goes out is the best it can be. I like being my own boss, but I have to keep busy.
“Most of my family works here – my two brothers, my wife, my two sons and my daughter helps out, too. It’s nice to know that they are here running things when I can’t be here. But most of the time I like to be here to keep an eye on things.”
Gonzalez said he’d like to open another Hickory Pit in the future and possibly start a local chain – one for each of his children to take over, although his youngest, 7-year-old Yessenia, doesn’t agree.
“You’re kidding me, right?” she asked when she heard of her father’s plans. “No way.”
His daughter has yet to discover his passion for the business, but it might grow on her as it did for him many years ago.
“Once I started out as a cook, there was no looking back,” Gonzalez said. “I never expected to enjoy it some much. It just happened, but it’s a part of me now. I can’t think of doing anything else. This is where I want to be.”
Brentwood Hickory Pit, located at 3130 Balfour Road, Suite E, is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call 925-516-5960.