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History of Big Dave's Famous Ribs
Big Dave's Barbecue Dominating the Carolina's "Texas-Style"

From Valley Ranch with the Dallas Cowboys, to Erickson Stadium - the home of the Carolina Panthers, and NOW at Death Valley home of the Clemson Tigers, “Big Dave” (David O. Jones) and his barbecue have been the talk of the town among professional athletes, business people, politicians, and the general public alike for the past 7 years.  When in Texas, do like the Texans do, and Jones really whips it up “Texas-style” with his own special blend of herbs and spices, producing a taste known rarely to those living in other parts of the country.  While under the name of Li’l Red BBQ Smokehouse in Dallas, Texas, Jones was the official caterer to the Dallas Cowboys for 4  years, and owned a restaurant in North Dallas off of Greenville Ave.  Upon return to his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina in July 1997, Jones and his establishment became the official caterer to the Carolina Panthers for the remainder of their football season.

In August 1997, Jones opened a barbecue house under the name of Big Dave’s Famous BBQ & Catering Co. at 1618 White Horse Road, giving Carolinians a chance to experience “barbecue gone Texas” without actually having to travel to the distant Longhorn state.  Motorists traveling White Horse Road near 1-85 cannot help but smell the delicious blend of meat and hickory coming from the outside cooker, as it is an aroma that is sure to make a hungry person stop in or a late person wish he had more time. Today, Big Dave's can be found in Clemson on US 123, (Tiger Boulevard).

When Jones’ barbecue hit Dallas, it took Texas by storm and now the state will never be the same again.  And if his barbecue success in Dallas, Texas is any indication of the success he’ll have with his barbecue in his own hometown, then South Carolina hold on to your waistline, because it’s going to be Big Dave in the Carolinas with barbecue that’s gone hog wild.

Jones, who is a former Fountain Inn Police Officer with a background in psychology, was laid off in 1989 due to an accident which left him disabled for 2 years.  His employer’s loss was barbecue lovers’ gain because he began cooking to fill some of the empty time on his hands.

His initial taste test came from his many neighbors in the exclusive apartment complex in Dallas where he lived with his wife, Patricia and children Kayla, Kristian, Kamille and David Jr.

“All the neighbors were all friendly and open with each other, and they would come over a lot and taste my barbecue,” Jones said. “Every time one would taste it, they would go and tell another... And it got to the point where the whole complex was coming over to our house to eat our barbecue... There were about 1400 units in this apartment. So, I said to my wife, ‘I’m going to start asking these people ‘would they buy this?”  The response was overwhelming.  They said ‘buy it, I want to buy it now.’ And they would get mad at us when we didn’t cook,” Jones continued with a smile. “The weekends that we didn’t cook, they would knock on our door, mad at us.,"

Jones said his sort of “taste- test” with his neighbors gave him the confidence that he had a product that would sell, but with no restaurant experience, his decision to actually leap into the business came after a lot of praying. “Every restaurant owner we tried to sit down and chit-chat with to kind of do some demographics and fact-finding, told us not to do it,” Jones said.  “They said you don’t have any experience.., they named certain systems that they said would kill you like food cost, labor, inventory control... discouraging rather than encouraging,” Jones said.

But he put all those negatives and seated them in the back of his mind and proceeded to move forward to negotiate a lease on a location they had found. “Here we (wife & I) were like as ‘green’ as you can be.  We went in an negotiated a lease with a landlord who owned about half of Dallas, Texas,” Jones said this guy brought in his corporate attorneys, and he had to use the only tool he had, the Lord. “We’re sitting here negotiating and I told him the Lord has inspired me to come to your location and open a restaurant.  And he looked at me and he said, ‘Well if you’re being inspired by the Lord, I think we’re going to have a good relationship.’ And that was the beginning of a wonderful relationship.  This man did everything he could as a tenant-landlord relationship to help us get established without putting too much pressure on us to get the business up, launched and running. I never will forget the day we opened... it was like awesome. We had a real good day of sales. People had been seeing us fix it up and they came in.”

This was in 1991 and the beginning of something big... and Jones, who is also in the ministry, said he knows his success is because God has had His hand in the mix of things as their confidence began to grow.

“More and more confidence developed within us,” Jones said. “... the confidence of the product we had, confidence enough to walk to corporate companies with sample platters, knock on their doors telling them we want to do business with you all. I started off doing sample trays, offering companies to taste my produce... Before I knew it we started becoming a catering service around Dallas.”

Big Dave Jones’ big break came when he was able to obtain the food contract for the Dallas Cowboys.  “One day it was like a light- bulb came on a couple years later,” Jones said. “I said ‘I’m going to take this out to the Cowboys.  So I went to Valley Ranch about twenty times. About twenty times they opened the door and they closed it back,” Jones said, describing how hard it was to be heard with a large number of other vendors wanting the Cowboys’ business as well.  “About the twenty-fifth time, this lady goes, ‘man you’re persistent.’ I said ‘Madame, that is what it’s having to take. I think you’ll acknowledge me today.  “She let me in, tasted my food and her eyelids went up.  She said ‘I want to introduce you to Kevin O’Neal, the Cowboys’ head trainer.  Kevin tasted my food and he immediately asked me if I’d like to do one of his mini camps. I said ‘uh, I’ll look at my schedule’ and we both laughed.  I told him it would be an honor.  Soon after, we became known as the official caterer for the Dallas Cowboys and they started endorsing our restaurant.  The players developed enough confidence in us to start asking us to prepare meals at their homes and Jerry Jones (owner of the Cowboys) started asking us to do things.  We developed a pretty close repose.”  From there, Jones’ barbecue grew from one store to three, with patronage by professional athletes from all over.  He catered to the Mavericks, the Sports Brothers, Freddie Jackson of JAMS Radio in Dallas, Larry Johnson (Mr. NBA), and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (shown on right), to name few.  Jones said he also has aspirations of one day feeding the President of the United States.  Since being back in Greenville, Jones’ barbecue has been enjoyed by Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Reeves and linebacker Tommy Novis, Corey Lucci who plays with Buffalo, the crew of boxer Evander Holyfield and the uncle of Kevin Garnett who says his nephew will be patronizing the facility soon.  Jones’ barbecue was such a big hit that business grew by leaps and bounds and went out of control.  “The Lord blessed us,” Jones said.  “We grew at a rate that was almost out of control at one point... I couldn’t control it... Everybody wanted our food!

A family illness has brought Jones back to the Carolinas where he is still cooking Up barbecue “Texas-style.”  So drop in to see Big Dave and give your taste buds a blast.  Not only will you get your money’s worth, but it’s all you ever wanted to taste in barbecue, but never have.

 

 

 

Feeding the World Champion Dallas Cowboys
For ex-Cowboys’ Caterer, it was 1st and 10; Feed ‘em Again

It’s easy to guess which one of the people working at Big Dave’s is Big Dave himself.  He’s the big, big, fella with the big, big, smile, welcoming you to his new barbecue restaurant in Clemson SC.

Big Dave is actually David Jones, former caterer for the Dallas Cowboys.  Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith LOVE David Jones’ barbecue; and his pastas, and his seafood dishes, and his salads.

Jones, a former Fountain inn policeman, turned his love of cooking into a three-store chain of barbecue restaurants in Dallas and also landed the job as caterer for the Cowboys. He was caterer for the Cowboys from 1993 to 1995, when they won two of their three recent Super Bowl titles. 

Working for the Cowboys’ head trainer, Jones organized the menus for game days, for practices and mini camps.  Aikman, Smith and Tony Tolbert, “Those guys would light up when they would see my barbecue on the buffet table,” Jones says.

Just how MUCH barbecue does it take to feed the Dallas Cowboys?  “For an average party of 150 to 165 people, you need about five to seven chafing trays of food,” says Jones. “For the Cowboys, it took 18 to 22 chafing trays every meal.”  That includes pasta, chicken and seafood meals as well. 

Jones understands a football player’s appetite.  He played defensive tackle at Carolina High School and linebacker at North Carolina A&T.  His weekend barbecues were so popular at his Texas apartment complex that Jones decided to take a chance and invest all of his savings in his own restaurant.  “On weekends when my wife and I didn’t cook, the neighbors would knock at the door and they’d be mad, so I figured I ought to be able to earn my way with that food.”  When he moved back to Greenville to be closer to his ailing mom and his family, he didn’t waste any time taking a sample tray of his barbecue to the executive chef of the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.  They liked it SO much they ordered 400 pounds of smoked brisket to be served to players and sky-box guests for every home game this season at Ericcson Stadium.  Still, Jones, a genial host who has a warm greeting for everyone who enters his new restaurant, misses his buddies in Dallas.

Many of the players had become personal friends. Cowboy Nate Newton once asked Jones to prepare Christmas dinner for Newton’s family, to be served following a Christmas day game. “Nate said he wanted a meal just like his mother would cook, but he didn’t want her to cook it, so I fixed up turkey and dressing and macaroni and cheese and turnip greens and drove 40 miles through a rare Dallas snow to deliver it.”  On another occasion Newton called Jones’ Lil’ Red Barbecue Smokehouse Restaurant to request his own personal pan of ribs at a party Jones was catering. “He walked around that room all night carrying that big old pan of ribs.” says Jones, “and he ate it all.”  Jones’ customers weren’t limited to football players.  Once Larry Johnson, a professional basketball player, called one of Jones’ restaurants and asked if Jones could handle an impromptu birthday party.

“Certainly,” said Jones, happy for the business. But when the party cranked up, within minutes there were 350 people to feed. Jones got busy and, “We got everyone fed,” he remembers.

Pictures that bring back Cowboy memories and Carolina Panthers experiences cover the walls of Big Dave’s, where he’s now serving the barbecue in Clemson that Aikman and Smith loved and that he considers his specialty.  You can’t miss him when you walk in the door.  Only don’t expect a Cowboys cap. These days, he wears a Clemson Tigers hat.

 


 Signature Catering
1060 Tiger Blvd (Hwy 123)
Clemson, SC 29631

Phone: (864) 973-3899

bigdavesribs@yahoo.com

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