An iconic restaurant in Evansville is being renovated, but it's not the new paint and decorations creating a buzz, rather what was discovered behind old siding. The Hickory Pit was opened almost 60 years ago, so the current owners decided to spruce up the building. When they began taking down parts of the current building, they felt as if they had taken a step back in time. They discovered the building's old facade hidden underneath, which was a welcomed reunion for the restaurant's longest customers.
Owner Jeff Ellison says that some of the older customers found it rather emotional to see what it looked like back then. Hickory Pit Stop has been in Jeff's family for nearly 60 years. It started with his grandfather and uncle, who originally named the joint after themselves: Jim and Joe.
Family member Amy Hassel vividly remembers her trip to the restaurant as a young kid. She says her family would come in town, play the jukebox they had on the wall in each booth. She also recalls the flavorful food, such as the double cheeseburgers and ice cream.
The restaurant changed names in the late 70s to Hickory Pit Stop, which remained a popular place to get a bite to eat for those traveling through Evansville. Train tracks still run by the restaurant and Amy says she can recall train conductors stopping to get barbecue, as well as the people on the train.
It's not just the great barbecue that's kept the business going, relatives think the atmosphere too. The family works to make everyone feel at home. Even if it's your first time or one-hundredth time, they make you feel like you're part of the family.
There's no doubt that keeping the business in the family has been a part of its success. Owner Jeff Ellison says that over the years, a lot of places have come and gone, but the Hickory Pit Stop has hung in there, going through some bad times and a lot of good times, and hopes they're still there for generations to come"