Barbecue is coming back to downtown Jasper in a familiar location.D's Downtown Barbecue will host its grand opening on Monday, Feb. 11, at 11 a.m. at the former Danny's Downtown Barbecue location in …
Barbecue is coming back to downtown Jasper in a familiar location.
D's Downtown Barbecue will host its grand opening on Monday, Feb. 11, at 11 a.m. at the former Danny's Downtown Barbecue location in Jasper.
Owner Darren Hix said things quickly fell into place for him to open the restaurant and pursue a career in food again after a three-year hiatus.
While Hix said was perfectly content working on the maintenance crew at Camp McDowell, he was still itching to put his culinary skills to good use again.
Hix first worked at a brew pub in his hometown of Columbus, Georgia, at 17 years old.
"I started as a bus boy, but then I quickly worked my way up to a pizza cook," he said, recalling how he would chop wood for the wood fire pizza oven, prepare ingredients and bake the pizzas.
He later put his knowledge of Italian cuisine to use at an Italian restaurant in Auburn, where he worked while attending college.
Hix is known locally for once co-owning Johnny Brusco's, but a search for personal healing after what he describes as some bad decisions led him to Camp McDowell. After three years there, Hix decided he would like to do catering as a side job, and he contacted the owners of Danny's Downtown Barbecue in early January when they announced their closing.
He knew they had a delivery truck he was interested in purchasing, but they wanted to sell their truck, building and equipment all together.
"I sat and thought about it a little while, and it just made sense to kind of pursue it," Hix said, followed by a reflective pause. "At some point, you wake up and you realize you're not really living your fullest potential. You may love what you're doing, but you're not living to the fullest, and I saw this as an opportunity to grow personally and from a business side of things."
He was turned down a few times in pursuit of a business loan, but a little faith helped Hix secure the money for his new endeavor.
Hix has put a new spin on the barbecue business, but is also sticking to beloved Danny's traditions in many ways. As a play on his first name and Danny's, Hix simply changed the name of the restaurant to D's Downtown Barbecue. Some Danny's classics will remain on the menu, such as their Alabama hogwash and whitewash sauces, soup recipes and their popular beans and greens plate.
D's will serve a classic barbecue pork sandwich, smoked chicken sandwich and hamburger, but there are many new additions to the menu. Hix said his signature dish is the Sanchez barbecue taco, served with smoked chicken or pork, pico de gallo and topped with a savory teriyaki sauce.
The restaurant will also serve hot dogs, Conecuh sausage dogs, chicken salad, chicken wings and a variety of plates, as well as sides of coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, macaroni salad or chips.
Daily specials will be posted at the restaurant.
D's, located at 108 19th St. E., will remain the only restaurant in downtown Jasper with a drive thru, and walk in orders are welcome. Takeout orders may also be placed by calling 205-384-4770.
Picnic tables outside are provided for seating.
Hix said his goal is to grow the catering side of the business and offer cuisine other than barbecue for special events.
The restaurant has had soft opening hours, and Hix said he has appreciated the time to make any necessary changes and establish a routine.
"I've been blown away with the response of the community, and it's reaffirming that now is the time to do this," he said. "It's exciting. I'm a little nervous about it, but anything that is worth doing, there's a little chance to it."
D's will be open Monday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hix said the hours are more conducive to spending time with his two boys, for which he is grateful.
Hix found his way to Jasper years ago, and he said there's nowhere he would rather be to open a business and be a part of the community.
"I automatically fell in love with this small town. It's quaint. Everyone smiles; everyone waves," he said. "Now I'm here with two sons, and I just feel like it's a great place to raise a family."
He added, "My heart's in the kitchen, and that's where I will shine."