< Back to Oral History project: Arkansas BBQ
In 1952, Richard Stubblefield Sr. opened Stubby’s Bar-B-Q. In 1976, the Dunkel family moved from New York to Arkansas, and a year later, they purchased Stubby’s Bar-B-Q. Chris Dunkel has been a part of the team at Stubby’s ever since, doing everything from waiting tables and working the pit to making Stubby’s distinct sugary-sweet sauce. His father was a managing partner of Coy’s Steakhouse, a legendary Arkansas restaurant, and his mother still works on the Stubby’s team.
Chris’ business sense, coupled with the restaurant’s prime location across from the Oaklawn racetrack, has ensured a long and successful run. The restaurant was rebuilt after a pit fire in 2007 but has enjoyed continued success. They make a sweet tomato-and-vinegar sauce that they serve with beef, pork, ham, ribs, and chicken. Specialties of the house include pit-smoked potatoes and pots of beans. According to Chris, there are several Stubby’s spin-off restaurants in the Hot Springs area, which were started by former employees of his, but there’s only one original.