By Anna Cooper
From food truck to restaurant, Mid-South BBQ has got it going on! Located at 881a US-51, Covington, TN, this family-owned restaurant smokes BBQ, bologna, ribs, chicken and more all in the Memphis-style we love. Father and son duo, Brian and Cameron Dickey, have been selling bbq since July 2016 in the bright yellow food truck. Until September 2017, the two operated their food truck around Tipton county until moving into Duke’s Cafe on the Covington campus of Dyersburg State Community College to the delight of ravenous college students.
Mid-South BBQ made Covington home not just because they had a great reception at Dyersburg State, but also because it’s their hometown. “Born and raised; both of us graduated from Covington High School,” Brian explained. Cameron expanded on some of the other reasons they had for staying so close to home, “We felt that Covington was really lacking in food choices. Other than fast food, you have a couple of other places, but there’s not much more than fast food. So we thought this would go over really well and it has.”
When Cameron says it’s going over well he’s not exaggerating. In the nearly three years they’ve been selling bbq, they’ve gone from a food truck to a restaurant to expanding their dining room to fit more diners. The Dickey’s have increased their dining capacity from 48 to 76 people. At the rate they’re going, more expansion may be in their future! “It’s really blown-up since we’ve moved in here,” Cameron said.
Brian was an insurance adjuster before he got started in the bbq business. He decided to start the food truck when Cameron moved out of state to go to college, “we were empty nesters,” Brian explained, “I’ve always cooked bbq since he (Cameron) was playing baseball. That was our fundraiser; I cooked and cooked and cooked so that just seemed like the most logical thing for me to do with my weekends. Then when he was gone, I thought about a food truck and decided to just go sell some bbq.” Their origin story doesn’t end there. Brian knew he could cook the bbq; but would people eat it if he sold it? So, Brian explained that “We went up to Dyersburg for a bbq cooking contest, but we didn’t go to cook in it. We went up there to sell—all we had was a tent, a smoker, and a table. We sold bbq like crazy up there. The teams that were cooking in the competition were coming over there and eating our bbq, saying ‘I’m glad you’re not cooking against us.’ So we thought, ‘You know, this may be something really good.’ So the next weekend I went on and ordered the food truck.”
The bbq at Mid-South BBQ is your good ole’ Memphis style of bbq, but they cook it so it’s more moist, more tender. Brian revealed, “It’s not that pure smokey flavor, it’s got a little smoke flavor, but it's not just pure smoke where you feel like you’re eating a hickory log.” Cameron then told us about their sauce, “It’s a Memphis-style sauce. It’s got little sweetness to it, it’s vinegar, ketchup, but it’s a sweet sauce.” The sheer amount of food that came out of their kitchen boggles the mind. There are nachos stacked like mountains, bbq sandwiches steaming next to golden, homemade onion rings, and hand-made burgers making their way out to tables. Mid-South BBQ also has homemade desserts that are to die for, but you have to get them while supplies last!
This restaurant would not have been possible without the help of their family and community. Brian’s wife helps make the desserts and Cameron’s grandmother helped wash dishes when they were still in the food truck. When Brian and Cameron remodeled their current building, friends and their church family helped them plan it all. Cameron elaborated, “If you had of walked in here the first time we walked in here you would be like, this is amazing because it was all ten by ten rooms in here thanks to previous tenants.” Those previous owners had left lots of their equipment in there, but once the Dickey’s were able to get that out, they took stock and “we jumped right on it and signed the lease. It took a good five, six months knocking stuff out, redoing it to get it like this. We liked the floors, they were already there, and so we were like, this looks like a bbq place.”
If Cameron had to label Mid-South BBQ he would call it fast-casual. There are waiters and waitresses, but you order your food at the front counter. There are usually 8 employees per shift and the amount of business they have means they can’t go out and do the food truck as much as they would like. Mid-South BBQ does cater!
The Dickey’s take pride in Mid-South BBQ. They like to make sure the restaurant is clean—that tables are wiped down and the air in the restaurant isn’t smoky like some places. They also want to make sure that their food represents not only the Mid-south and Memphis but also Covington and Tipton County. Brian said, “We want to be here. This is where we’ve been most of our lives, we do stuff with local charities. We just sent some money to the Carl Perkins Center. I think we’ll be doing the Boys and Girls Club next. All tips received here go to charity.”
Mid-South BBQ is located at 881 A Highway 51 S Covington, TN 38019. Their phone number is 901-296-5665 and their website is https://midsouthbbq.net/ Their hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM.