The slogan on the back of the T-shirt worn by the employees at Hutchins BBQ says it all—“You may all go to Lockhart, but I will go to Hutchins.”
This is the message the pit masters at Hutchins say needs to be their catch phrase, because they want people to know the brisket sold in the McKinney restaurant rivals that of any world-renowned Texas barbecue.
“When we finally felt like we were putting our name on the map and getting noticed, we knew we needed a new slogan for Hutchins,” said pit master Dustin Blackwell, who co-owns the restaurant with Tim Hutchins. “The old catchphrase for Hutchins was ridiculous and about 50 words [long]. We needed something new.”
The idea came from the Central Texas town of Lockhart where Texas barbecue was born in the early 1900s as German immigrants started cooking brisket.
“There are three big-name barbecue places in Lockhart, and that’s where people all over the world flock to when they want barbecue in Texas,” Blackwell said. “They need to know they can find the best in McKinney now.”
Blackwell said Hutchins’ barbecue has evolved and improved over the years.
“It’s been a lot of trial and error. We’ve experimented with different pit styles,” he said. “We tried using a flat rack then a rotisserie. We finally settled on rotisserie. All our pits are all 100 percent wood-fired, and we use pecan and post oak.”
Hutchins BBQ is definitely earning a name of its own. Food critics and dining gurus consistently make their way to the eatery at 1301 N. Tennessee St., where Hutchins has been located for nearly 25 years. Hutchins owners credit their growing success to a ranking on Texas Monthly’s placing Hutchins on its list of “The 50 best BBQ joints in the World!”
“The business has grown 700 percent in the last five years—most of that growth occurred after Texas Monthly put us on that list in 2013,” Blackwell said. “That’s insane growth in the restaurant business.”
With this new-found fame, the biggest challenges come in the form of supply and demand, and sheer volume.
“Everything is great, and I’m happy to say we—our employees and their families—are all reaping the rewards,” Blackwell said. “But there are tough issues that come with this. We’d like to serve prime beef, but our supplier can only get us 250 cases a week.”
Since Hutchins serves about a thousand briskets a week and there are only four to five briskets per case, the rest has to be certified Angus.
“We’d prefer prime,” Blackwell said. “And try to feed 400 people in a line for a restaurant with a 95-person capacity—that’s another challenge. We wouldn’t want it any other way.”