May is a good month for Dana Peterson.

In May 2017, he traded his investment advisory career for his passion for smoked meats and launched Big D’s BBQ food truck in Branson.

In May 2018, he opened a restaurant in the Starlite Theatre.

And this May (or possibly earlier), Peterson will unveil a new brick-and-mortar location for Big D's BBQ at 1550 W. Missouri 248 in Branson.

“Very soon after having the food truck, we started gaining a lot of popularity and could see a restaurant was the direction we were heading,” Peterson says. “We have a very large catering business. I love the flavor of barbecue. I am a carnivore and love all meats.”

In particular, Big D’s is known for its ribs and brisket. The dry-rubbed Memphis-style ribs are slow cooked over cherry wood. The brisket is central Texas style, which has a dry rub and is smoked over pecan wood. Sauce is served on the side.

“We have a saying, ‘If you’re saucing, you’re hiding,’” Peterson says. “We want to showcase the meat and show it’s true smoked meat and not baked in an oven and hidden in sauce. That’s real barbecue.”

While he has dabbled in barbecue for 25 years, Peterson became serious about it 20 years ago when he started competing in some circuits. Big D was his childhood nickname, so it seemed a natural fit for the business.

While he’s proud of his meats, Big D's also offers a few sides and desserts that customers should not miss.

“The pit beans are smoked and full of pulled pork or brisket, ” Peterson says. “We have a smoked mac 'n' cheese made from scratch that is very popular. We smoke the whole pan. For dessert, we have a smoked bourbon and bacon pecan pie that is unique to us. It’s my wife’s recipe. We do have a chef on staff who has added another dessert, apple bread pudding with an apple caramel and green apple whipped cream topping.”

When Big D’s BBQ opens, likely in late April or early May, the restaurant will seat 98. The décor will be a rustic farmhouse feel with galvanized roofing metal, butcherblock countertops and big bulky wood tables crafted by Peterson himself.

The best way to stay posted on the opening date is via Big D's Facebook page.

“Now we are on to the next greatest thing,” Peterson says. “It’s a lot of fun. We get to meet people from all over the country that are here on vacation. We get to make people happy with our food.  It’s fulfilling.”

Big D’s BBQ, 1550 W. Missouri 248, Branson, Missouri,

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Juliana Goodwin lives in Springfield, Mo., but loves to explore the Ozarks and write about it for Feast Magazine.

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