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Where the Locals Go

Hudson's Hickory House is a place for great barbeque.

I don’t really know why, but I did not go to the first six years I lived here. Of course, I knew where it was. I had driven by it countless times. I frequently saw a full parking lot, so it must be good, I thought. Recently, a friend was visiting from St. Louis and wanted to go out for barbeque. Now is the time, I thought. I know where to go. Now I know–it only takes one visit to make you a fan.

Established on December 20, 1971, Hudson Hickory House was opened by Buford Hudson. Today, it is run by Buford and his son, Scot. Father, son or both will always be there, no matter the day or time. On a weekday afternoon, Scot Hudson sat down and told me about his family’s restaurant over the quiet din of chatting employees and customers and the sound of chopping coming from the kitchen.

So what’s so special about Hudson’s? It’s home-made, hand-made and the Hudsons are sticklers for every little detail. “It’s not pulled off the shoulder until you order it,” Hudson said. “We bring it in from the pit where it’s been on a rack over an open fire of hickory wood; logs, not coals.” The pork shoulder starts on a slow fire in the morning, taking 10 to 12 hours to cook. Each week, Hudson’s goes through 6,000 pounds of pork.

For something else special, try a hamburger. It’s freshly ground in the kitchen. Or maybe you’ve fall in love with the blue cheese dressing. It is made fresh daily. “My father came up with the recipe years ago. It’s an acquired taste,” Hudson said. “I see people dipping French fries into it.” People stop by Hudson’s to get a pint of blue cheese dressing to go, it’s that good.

But it’s not just good food that keeps people coming back. “We treat people right,” Hudson said. “Daddy always said ‘if you don’t give them a reason leave, they’ll come back.’ If he (Buford) wouldn’t eat it, it won’t go out the door. We want you to be happy. If you’re not, we’ll make it up to you.”

Some employees have worked there 20 or 30 years. “It’s not our own family, but they are family,” Hudson reflected. “Generations have worked here.” Lee Burney has been a waitress for one and a half years. She said, “I love the people. I can be myself. I’m just a good old country girl.” Burney continued, “It’s laid-back and family-oriented. If we’ve got an open table, we’ll get you a seat.” She looked like she enjoyed her job, with a friendly demeanor politely pushing fried pies for dessert. Fried pies? Well, they may not be the healthiest items on the menu but after it arrives at your table, heated up with a pat of butter on top, you’ll be won over after the first bite.

After the train derailment in January, traffic was diverted off Broad Street. It was difficult to get around, but new business was actually created. Norfolk Southern set up an account at Hudson’s to feed the railroad workers. During normal times, the train may even stop and pick up barbeque to go. “We get those orders ready to go real fast,” Hudson proudly said. I’d venture to say it’s a safe place to be after dark or any time of the day. The is their neighbor.

I wanted to ask Scot about last Thanksgiving. I had heard their turkeys almost didn’t make it to their tables. “We lost 36 turkeys when our chimney caught fire the night before Thanksgiving,” he lamented. “At 2 a.m. we called a friend who works at . He had a pallet of thawed turkeys.” By Thanksgiving morning, all the turkeys were replaced, cooked and ready to go. “It was a long night but we made it,” Buford recalled.

This restaurant is not famous to only locals. CNN.com visited last November and Food Network has plans to check out Hudson’s in late March. How did they find out about this local gem? I don’t know. No advertising is done; it’s all word of mouth. Satisfied mouths, no doubt. If you haven’t been there, go. Don’t wait six years like I did. You know where it is. How many times have you gotten these directions from a local–‘go to Hudson’s and take a left’?

“Are you ready for that pie? Or have you wimped out,” Lee asked as Scot left my table. Next time, I’ll leave room for a fried pie. I promise.

Lori Dykes March 18, 2011 at 10:44 PM
Great Article Stephanie! I use to go there a lot - I would stop on my way home from work. The only problem is making up your mind about what to order! Everything is so good and freshly made. You can tell it is a family owned place because they do treat you wonderfully. I'd recommend it to anyone !! Lori D.
Nanette Lee February 03, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Many years ago, my husband was on a sequestered jury for 3 weeks. Our first experience with Hudson's was when the jury's families were invited out to Hudson's pavillion for a wonderful Sunday lunch. The lunch was fabulous and the staff was so courteous and compassionate, as everyone missed their family member so much. Also,my daughter and I are huge fans of their ribs in a glorious bbq sauce, as well as Hudson's secret recipe 1000 island dressing that makes a baked potato extraordinary!
Melaine June 10, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Hudson's is to Douglasville as peaches are to Georgia. They haven't been around as long as peaches but the association and tradition are still there. Countless high school students have made Hudson's their first after school stop for sweet tea and fries. Ball teams of all sorts have had their pre or post game meals there. Business deals have been made over ribs, a pork plate or a bowl of stew. My husband and I were married at Hudsons by the Lake before there was a pavilion and we had a fun wedding. This landmark on Bankhead, made special by Buford and Scott, holds a special place in many hearts and memories of the citizens of Douglas County
Amie Phillips September 11, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Hometown favorite. also, One of my first jobs. Scot and Buford have been huge supporters to all youth teams my children have been apart of. Thanks Hudson's!!

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