WAKEFIELD, R.I. – Missing their family at a tough time is what brought sisters Adriana and Rachel Bianchi to Rhode Island.
And a craving to again experience the authentic slow-smoked Texas barbecue and comfort food they grew up loving is what drove the pair to bring a new dining experience to the Ocean State.
“We always talked as a family about having a restaurant,” Adriana said.
The talk became action when the siblings, along with Adriana’s fiancé, Ward Osborne, and her daughter, Justine Renee Jennings, took the plunge and put in motion plans to open two Dickey’s Barbecue Pit locations in Rhode Island.
The first, a virtual kitchen concept, is scheduled to open in October in Providence. But the family has even bigger plans to have a new Wakefield location up and running by March or April.
The full, quick-service restaurant will open at 171 Main St., where the Edward Jones office has operated. Closing on the location took place in August.
The tug of family and unexpected news brought them to Rhode Island.
A year ago, Rachel was selling homes in the Dallas area and Adriana was in California, working in real estate as well.
The sisters uprooted their lives after learning early last September that their father, Mathew Bianchi, was ill. They wanted to be in Narragansett, closer to him and their mother, Michele, for the next several months.
A framed picture of both parents hangs in the family home just a short walk from Narragansett Pier and the beach.
“My mom and dad lived here for years,” Adriana said. “We have a very close family, there’s four of us (siblings).”
The house holds special meaning, because Bianchi, a contractor, did a lot of work on it over the years, such as adding a guest house, a greenhouse and other improvements.
“This is my dad,” Adriana said, gesturing to the walls of the home around her.
He also was a great cook, the sisters added.
“He would do a spread that was beautiful, like you would see a caterer do,” Rachel said. “Meats and cheeses and fruits and vegetables.”
The entire family treasured the time they had with Mathew, who passed away on March 11.
“We got another six months with my father,” Adriana said. “We got to enjoy and fall in love with Rhode Island.”
Just like their parents did, Rachel said.
“My dad (a Chicago native) never really fit in very well in Texas,” she said. A big Italian with a “big personality,” he was “a little loud and out there” for the south, she said.
“When he moved to Rhode Island, he was like a kid. He made so many friends. His people were here. They both felt so at home when they got here.”
And the Bianchi family can’t wait to bring a taste of Texas barbecue to southern New England.
“We realized once we moved here we were missing some of the comfort foods we loved growing up in Dallas,” Adriana said.
Their restaurant will offer a full array of slow-smoked barbecue classics including authentic, Texas-style brisket, jalapeño cheddar kielbasa sausage, pulled pork, smoked chicken wings, fall-off-the-bone ribs and more. The delicious Texas-style meats will be smoked on-site and complemented by an array of savory sides with recipes that have been passed down by generations.
“It’s all slow-smoked on the premises,” Rachel said.
Dickey’s Barbecue started in 1941 in Texas, when Travis Dickey, a World War II veteran, opened the first Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. It expanded locally and became known throughout Texas for mouthwatering hickory-smoked barbecue, popular catered events and the use of iconic big yellow cups.
It’s a family success story that’s evolved and grown to include more than 500 locations in 44 states.
When she moved here, Adriana tried to find the closest Dickey’s location. It was three hours away, in New York. That just wouldn’t do.
“My initial thought was, Dickey’s at the Pier,” Adriana said.
Then COVID-19 hit, and they decided to do a smaller start, with Dickey’s partnering with a cloud kitchen, which is a professional food preparation and cooking facility set up for delivery-only meals.
“It’s take-out in Providence, but we can cater also to anywhere,” Rachel said.
The service starts in October, but before that the trio is planning to attend Barbecue University for three weeks in Dallas this month.
“We’re going to go to different restaurants in Dallas and learn the whole business,” Adriana said. “We’re all perfectionists and foodies, so the food will be perfect, every time.”
Work to renovate the Wakefield location will take place in the fall and winter while the take-out and catering gets off the ground.
Adriana’s daughter, Justine, is a key part of the business at Dickey’s as well. She drove to Rhode Island from San Francisco during the early stages of COVID-19 to be closer to the family.
Justine will handle restaurant operations and catering services, since she has years of experience with catering, marketing and customer service. Rachel will be in charge of finances and the day-to-day management of Dickey’s. And Adriana is going to concentrate on recruiting and the development of more Dickey’s locations to grow the business.
The family team wants to develop at least a dozen spots in New England, and then open in Puerto Rico.
“So for all the snow birds, it’s perfect,” Adriana said.
She also wants to use the venture as a community platform, “to reach out to whoever wants to be part of something that’s bigger than us.”
The group’s parent company, called Pixie Dust, will partner up with local charities along with the Dickey’s Foundation charity.
Giving back to the community is a passion and an obligation, Adriana said. Plans are not only to have an employee profit-sharing program, but also to help the community through endeavors like affordable housing and supporting causes near to their hearts.
“It’s not just come and work for fast food. Come and be a part of the family and be part of our growing vision in property and in restaurants,” Adriana said. “We have a lot of knowledge and a lot of passion and a lot of love to give. It’s fellowship around food.”