Goodbye Jimmy Gibson

This evening I said goodbye to a co-worker and friend who is moving back to his home state on Thursday. In tribute to him because it was always the way he did things, I performed a “Montana Exit*” at the popular Missoula restaurant where his going away celebration was taking place without really even saying goodbye. I figured I would save that for this blog post.

Tonight I said goodbye to my good friend, Jimmy Gibson.

Tonight I said goodbye to my good friend, Jimmy Gibson.

When I got hired at Grizzly Athletics a little over four years ago, Jimmy Gibson was coming up on his one year anniversary with the athletic department in his position as the Assistant Athletic Director for Business and Finance. He had arrived in Missoula from Texas where he grew up. After some years working in the Texas A&M system he eyed the Montana position, went through the application process, and landed the “money job” as I called it. As I am sure most people would admit, Jimmy wasted no time earning a reputation as someone who liked to have fun and joke around. When you are overseeing million dollar budgets some people might automatically perceive you as someone who is always serious; someone who has no time for small talk and someone who might be a little socially aloof. If you thought Jimmy might be a little like that before meeting him you were in for a surprise.

I got to know Jimmy pretty well over time. Although I don’t really hang out with people from work that much, I would hang with Jimmy from time to time in those first couple years. In 2012 I got to be his assistant on the travel advance team for football and we got to know each other pretty well. Spending long hours on planes, rental cars, and in hotels will do that to two people. We worked well together and a strong bond of trust and friendship developed.

It was during these football trips where he would tell me about the exciting developments of his new business, Dickey’s Barbecue. Jimmy had decided to follow his dream of opening up his own restaurant franchise. I got to stand back and watch the whole process happen from when the restaurant was just a wild idea in Jimmy’s head to the opening of its doors in March of 2013. During the football season of 2012 things really started to move fast for Dickey’s and I got to see firsthand the focus and stress it takes on a person to work two full-time jobs. I gained a lot of respect for Jimmy during those autumn months of last year.

As I mentioned in the above paragraph, in March Jimmy realized his dream and opened a restaurant in Missoula that this town had never seen before. He poured his heart and soul into that business. In life when you put every ounce of your energy into something, you usually have to cut back on something else. This summer, Jimmy left Grizzly Athletics on a full-time basis to focus completely on Dickey’s. Luckily he was still nice enough to coordinate football travel and help Brynn and I tremendously as our on- field point person for football games.

This is Jimmy and I at the soft opening for Dickey's on March 20, 2013

This is Jimmy and I at the soft opening for Dickey’s on March 20, 2013

In the end, Jimmy knew that in order to maximize his personal profitability, a move back to Texas was necessary. In an example of his talents and employability, Jimmy quickly landed a job back in the athletic department at Texas A&M overseeing a hospitality facility. Mr. Gibson will once again be making crucial athletic business decisions, this time in a department much bigger than the one he was previously at. The Aggies are in good hands.

I want to wish Jimmy the best of luck in his move back to College Station. It was great getting to know him, getting to work with him, and getting to go on a few adventures with him. We send Jimmy back to his home state with his accent fully intact and his Texas pride attitude still as strong as ever. Goodbye, friend. Don’t Blink.

* A “Montana Exit” is when you secretly leave a place without telling anyone who you are with that you are leaving.

Missoula Dickey’s: Best BBQ Ever

Tomorrow, Missoula will officially have something that it has needed for a while. After way too long of not having the option to visit this place, which is the most prevalent of its kind, doors will open tomorrow at 11 a.m. You know what is funny though? Even though it is the most prevalent of its kind, many Missoulians give me a blank stare and ask “what is that?” when I tell them that a Dickey’s is moving into the old Central Bar location in downtown Missoula. Let me explain.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to town Dickey’s (oh yes, you are asking what exactly Dickey’s is). Okay, let me say this again…ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to town Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. As with most things, it took some time for Dickey’s to make it to Montana but come tomorrow, there will be two locations in the state (one just opened up in Billings). Everyone out there who is not on a diet will love Dickey’s. Served cafeteria style, the restaurant serves the most popular BBQ staples: pulled pork, ribs, brisket, smoked sausage, ham, and much more. The place also serves LOTS of sides, including: macaroni and cheese, potato casserole, jalapeno beans, BBQ beans, fried okra, waffle fries, and more. Obviously, you get the idea that at Dickey’s you can get yourself a tasty and traditional BBQ meal.

Besides the “meat and potatoes” part of the Dickey’s operation, the franchise also has several little trademarks that make dining at one of their restaurants fun. First off, you got the Big Yellow Cup. At Dickey’s, you can purchase a cup that is, well, big and yellow. The cup is plastic and is meant for you to take home and then bring back to the restaurant for refills each time you return. The Big Yellow Cup even has its own fan club. Dickey’s also offers a few different kinds of BBQ sauce. Mix and match your entrees with any assortment you choose. Also, kids eat free on Sundays at Dickey’s. I don’t have kids, but if I did I would be at Dickey’s every Sabbath! Finally, and my favorite, you get FREE ICE CREAM! I am not kidding. At each Dickey’s location there is a vanilla soft serve ice cream machine with cones for you to help yourself. Come on, what other place offers that?!

Dickey's has three different types of BBQ sauce. My favorite is the spicy one!

Dickey’s has three different types of BBQ sauce. My favorite is the spicy one!

To be completely honest though, the main reason why you should get down to Dickey’s in Missoula is not for all the awesome food, promotions, and free ice cream that the company offers nationwide. Rather, you need to check it out because of the uniqueness that separates the Missoula location from all the others.

One of my favorite parts about Dickey's is the free ice cream!

One of my favorite parts about Dickey’s is the free ice cream!

The owner of the Missoula Dickey’s is James Gibson. He is my co-worker and good friend. For his day job, he serves as the Assistant Athletic Director for Business and Finance here at Grizzly Athletics. It takes a pretty driven person who is already immersed in a busy and important job to decide that he wants to take on an additional challenge, maybe the toughest challenge there is: The Restaurant Business. In the works for a long time now, I have watched Jimmy take his new business endeavor from just an idea to a grand opening. Although not even close to everything he had to deal with and work through, I got to see him jump over many of the hurdles to get to the point he will be at tomorrow. It is astounding. So know this: When you go to Dickey’s you will be supporting a true Missoulian who loves the town and is already working a job that serves the community.

Jimmy and I at the dry run for this new restaurant. A place could not be owned by a better guy.

Jimmy and I at the dry run for this new restaurant. A place could not be owned by a better guy.

One very unique thing about the Missoula Dickey’s that you won’t find at roughly 99% of the locations nationwide is that it will also feature a bar! Yes, a fast food restaurant with a bar! Quite the concept, huh? On the other side of the food line, you will find the bar. Serving both beer and liquor, you can have an adult beverage with your BBQ. How many of you have ever walked into a McDonald’s or Taco Bell and found a bar? That’s what I thought.

The bar is beautiful!

The bar is beautiful!

But it keeps getting better. From Thursday through Saturday, Dickey’s will stay open until 3 a.m.! Serving a limited menu starting at around midnight, Dickey’s will cater to the large bar crowd that takes over the streets of Missoula when night falls. To understand how significant of a development this is, you would have to know the city and know the prime location that Dickey’s sits at in the downtown district. To have the option of great tasting BBQ late on a weekend night might very well turn Dickey’s into not just one of the most popular restaurants in town but also one of the popular bars in town.


Lots of options on the menu!

Lots of options on the menu!

Finally, the Missoula Dickey’s will just have a genuine, community-type feel that you rarely find at such places. I have already mentioned the owner and his ties to The Zoo but it does not stop there. The Missoula location has committed to serving Griz Nation. Supporting that claim, Dickey’s has already partnered with a couple of the biggest and most prominent Montana Grizzlies entities in town. The restaurant has also expressed desire to have a large impact in the Missoula business community and help out as much as possible. How can you not want to support Dickey’s?

Previously I had the pleasure of eating at Dickey’s locations in Colorado and North Dakota. Both were awesome experiences with great food. Tonight I had the opportunity to eat at the Missoula Dickey’s as the restaurant staged its final dry run before the big opening day tomorrow…BEST EXPERIENCE YET! The food is simply top-notch quality. Please support the Missoula community while eating some great food at the same time…you won’t regret it. Best of luck Jimmy! Don’t Blink.

The food is simply amazing. Please give Missoula Dickey's a try!

The food is simply amazing. Please give Missoula Dickey’s a try!