HOME COOKING SINCE 1935
Dunn's cooking home (made) on the range
Dunn's begin in 1935 in a service station and evolved into a sit down restaurant in the 50's, but since 1961 has operated at 3716 Mechanicsville Turnpike as a drive-in restaurant. In the process the Dunn's has remained family owned, withstanding the onslaught of competition from modern fast-food franchises.
Stuart I. Martin, owner and sole proprietor of the business founded by his grandparents, said the key to the restaurant's longevity is an emphasis on prepared-on-site cooking.
“Everything we sell is homemade, except for buns or breads used for sandwiches,” Martin said. We cut and hand-bread our onions rings. Our roast beef is cooked the way you would cook it at home. We make our barbeque using only fresh baked hams. From the time the ham goes into the oven until it becomes the finished product takes 9 hours.
Began in service station
Dunn's has 12 full and part time employees working in its 1400 square foot brick building. Martin, who took over in 1986, declined to divulge revenue or profit figures.
Martin's grandmother, Helen Dunn, 84 began the business with her late husband, buck in 1932. We ran a service station on Mechanicsville Pike, and later owned a store for 21 years. We had booths on one side of the service station, and began selling barbecue there.” She recalled. “We just mad up the recipe by experimentation.'
Early Dunn's barbecues were made from ground pork, and featured relish on top which gae way to a coleslaw topping. In 1951, the Dunn's bought two acres of land at the restaurant's current location and built a restaurant accommodating about 250 people.
We kept adding on to the building. We added on five times, as business kept on increasing. Dunn said. We had a party room seating, and did a good business with private parties. We served everything from steaks to seafood, not just barbecue.