Though John Bishop passed away in 1997, his legacy remains a focal point of the company's operations today.
The Barbeque Hall of Fame selection committee announced that Dreamland BBQ founder John “Big Daddy” Bishop will be one of three inductees!
American Royal, the association that runs the Hall of Fame, states on its website, “Election into the Barbecue Hall of Fame at the American Royal is barbecue’s top honor and recognizes the significant contributions to the advancement of barbecue by individuals in the competitive, business and entertainment communities.”
Bishop was listed as one of nine nominees earlier this month, and the committee confirmed his selection as an inductee on Thursday. His formal admission will take place during a ceremony on September 14 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, KS.
Born in Tuscaloosa in 1921, John Bishop spent much of his professional life working as a brick mason. Over time, he felt compelled to open his own neighborhood business. Bishop initially settled on the idea of opening a mortuary, but those plans soon changed. Bishop stated that one night, God whispered to him, and told him to open a restaurant on his newly purchased property. Heeding the advice, Mr. Bishop and his wife, Lillie, opened the original Dreamland BBQ on the land in front of their Tuscaloosa, Alabama home.
While Dreamland initially sold a variety of items, their ribs were in such high demand that it soon became the only item on the menu, along with white bread and potato chips. The restaurant quickly became a local favorite and has since become the subject of regional and national acclaim.
Though John Bishop passed away in 1997, his legacy remains a focal point of the company’s operations today.
“We feel what sets our company apart from others is that we have an amazing story, and it all started with Mr. Bishop’s dream.”, said Betsy McAtee, Dreamland’s CEO. “All of our employees know his story, and we proudly share it with our guests.” McAtee went on to explain that while the company has expanded to ten locations in three states, Bishop’s influence remains. “We still use the same recipes and techniques Mr. Bishop and Miss Lillie developed over six decades ago.”
Upon hearing of his impending induction, McAtee beamed, “His selection is an honor. Mr. Bishop’s contribution to Alabama’s food culture is unrivaled. He’d be so proud if he were today.”
When asked how her father would react to the news of his induction, his daughter Jeannette Bishop-Hall exclaimed, “He’d be touched! My father was known as quiet and humble, but he always took pride anytime Dreamland received recognition. It would often bring him to tears.” She added that while he found joy in the critical acclaim the restaurant often received, her father always credited Dreamland’s success to his family and his employees. She added the awards Dreamland garnered also served to strengthen his faith. “He believed the restaurant’s success was confirmation that God had a plan for him. He felt listening to the advice God gave him was the best decision he ever made.”
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