“It’s a meld between Tennessee and Texas because you have both the beef influence and the pork influence. And, of course, we do it better than both states, so they come here to enjoy it.”
~ Chris Dunkel
In 1952, Richard Stubblefield Sr. opened Stubbys BBQ Pitmaster Chris Dunkel Stubby’s BBQ. In 1976, the Dunkel family moved from New York to Arkansas. A year later, they purchased Stubby’s BBQ. Chris Dunkel has been a part of the team at Stubby’s BBQ ever since, doing everything from waiting tables and working the pit to making Stubby’s BBQ distinct sugary-sweet sauce. His father was a managing partner of Coy’s Steakhouse, a legendary Arkansas restaurant, and his mother still works on the Stubby’s BBQ team.
Chris’s business sense coupled with the restaurant’s prime location across from the Oaklawn racetrack has ensured a long and successful run. The restaurant was rebuilt after a pit fire in 2007 but has enjoyed continued success. They make a sweet, tomato and vinegar sauce that they serve with beef, pork, ham, ribs, and chicken. Specialties of the house include pit-smoked potatoes and pots of beans. According to Chris, there are several Stubby’s BBQ spin-off restaurants in the Hot Springs area, which were started by former employees of his, but there’s only one original.
Date of interview: July 26, 2010
Interviewer: Rachel Reynolds Luster
Photographer: Rachel Reynolds Luster