History

Ole Hickory Pits is a division of David B. Knight and Associates, Inc., a privately held corporation founded in 1974. Located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the company’s first endeavor as a Barbecue Industry Pioneer were concept development, ownership, design, and management of the Port Cape Girardeau Restaurant – a landmark in Southeast Missouri overlooking the Mississippi River.

Specializing in barbecue ribs, the restaurants venture as immediate popularity allowed the company to see the potential for Barbecue in the early 1970’s. The company’s experience with its first barbecue pit design used at its restaurant pointed the company toward the need for better barbecue equipment, which became the Ole Hickory Pits Division of the company.

The design of that first pit, built for Port Cape Girardeau restaurant back in 1974, was a simple brick oven with stationary racks and wood fire located directly underneath the meat.

"To make a long story short, the third time the fire trucks came to put out the fire at the resturant, it dawned on us that there should be a better way."

Since there was no way to control the heat, cooking consistency and the need for constant attention were continuing problems. Looking at how other restaurant were barbecuing at that time, it was easy to see people everywhere having the same problems.

Fires, temperature control and direct labor were big problems for the barbecue industry using brick pits, steel barrels and other similar contraptions.

Over the years, the company has evolved from a leading manufacturer of commercial barbecue smoker ovens sold throughout the world to developing a variety of barbecue sauces, spices and seasoning that represent the regional flavors of the barbecue industry. Ole Hickory Pits first-hand experience in all aspects of the industry enables us to help new business owners get started as well as help established barbecue restaurants improve their profitability.

David B. Knight, founder and President of the company, uses the experience gained from the early days of the barbecue restaurant and the knowledge gained from pit design and use to help others stay on the cutting edge of the barbeque industry. In addition to the retail and wholesale segments of the industry, Knight is active in the competitive barbecue circuit, having judged at the prestigious Memphis in May International Competition, Kansas City Royal and other competitions including, Meat on the Mississippi. In recent years, Ole Hickory Pits customers have won countless competitions throughout the United State and Canada. Knight’s unique blend of barbecue and business experience provides extraordinary perspective of the Barbecue Industry, which he shares in trade journal articles and industry seminars.

Company associate, Dale Pruett, has connections to the barbeque industry dating back to 1946. Dale grew up in the family business, Pruett’s Pit Bar-B-Q, located in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Started by his parents, Troy and Pearl Pruett, the restaurant was famous for its barbecue sandwiches and tasty barbecue sauce. Pruett’s recipes and expertise were instrumental in the 1974 Port Cape Girardeau Restaurant concept and later in Ole Hickory Pits barbecue sauce, spice and seasoning division.

Ole Hickory Pits sells its products throughout the world to Barbecue Chains and Restaurant Owners, as well as Caterers, Convenience Stores, and Institutional Food Operators. We pride ourselves not only on the equipment and products we make and services we provide, but also on the relationship we maintain with our valued customers.