DEXTER, MI — The Hickman Chuckwagon BBQ Hotel in Dexter has officially closed its doors.
The barbecue joint located at 8050 Main St. in Dexter saw its last day on Sunday, September 17, less than a year after changing ownership in December 2022.
Learn more: The Hickman Chuckwagon BBQ Hotel in Dexter is now under new ownership
Owner Milly McClure took over after previous owner Scott Thomas had the decision to sell or close the business. Despite his efforts, McClure had problems with staffing, increasing food costs and the restaurant’s overall sales.
“Scott warned me when I took this place that it had slowed down,” she said. “It was a smart decision to step down now before things get worse… You have to know when to fold.”
The restaurant’s last day was originally set for Oct. 1, but McClure said the decision was quickly moved up. The Dexter resident and frequent customer said she really wants the business to succeed.
“I really tried to keep it open. I took it over because I didn’t want it to close because Scott had originally planned to close it,” she said. “I took a risk and that’s all I could do.”
Hickman Chuckwagon BBQ got its start when Thomas performed cowboy re-enactments with his wagon in 1999. That led to him cooking barbecue for birthday parties and weddings. From there it continued to grow.
Eventually, Thomas wanted to see what it would be like to have a kitchen to cook in during the winter months, so he moved to Main Street in Dexter in 2012.
Although the Dexter location may be closed, McClure said Thomas will still fulfill catering orders with the cart, allowing customers to still get some of the restaurant’s well-known dishes.
McClure isn’t sure what will occupy the restaurant’s location next since it’s owned by the city of Dexter. However, she anticipates that this space will have something to do with a food-related business in the future.
Michelle Aniol, Dexter’s community development manager, said the city is already receiving inquiries about the space.
Aniol said that in the past the city has requested proposals and plans from companies interested in leasing the site. She anticipates next steps regarding the space will be discussed at the Dexter City Council meeting on September 25.
Ultimately, McClure said the decision to close was a “tough decision,” but she’s just happy Dexter was able to enjoy one more year with the Hickman Chuckwagon BBQ Hotel.
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