By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE - For years, Fort Pierce residents have traveled to Dale's barbecue restaurant to enjoy a great meal and celebrate milestones.
Now, the restaurant is celebrating its own milestone, having turned 50 on Oct. 12.
"It's always been Dale's to everyone here," said Cindy Webster, owner of Dale's on U.S. 1. She and Danny Kinser bought the family restaurant in 1981.
"We kept the name and the recipes the same. It's very recognizable."
Dale's first opened its doors in north Fort Pierce on Oct. 12, 1962. And while the location may have changed since that time, it's still the same taste after all these years.
"We are a real, true, open-pit barbecue," Ms. Webster said. "Every day, we use real wood on real racks to cook with."
Most everything in the restaurant is made from scratch, including the cole slaw, beans and barbecue sauces.
"We use an original recipe for the sauces," she said.
A second location opened in 1979 on Okeechobee Road and has been owned by Danny Adkins since 1981.
Generations of residents return to the restaurant for the sliced beef and pork, chicken and ribs.
Another reason is Mr. Elk, a large elk head that hangs on a wall in the U.S. 1 location.
"That elk head has been hanging here since 1972," Ms. Webster said. "We have had people come to this location to show him to their kids, because they were brought here as children themselves."
One of the things that Ms. Webster is proud of is the restaurant's relationship in the community.
"It's the stories," she said. "We are family oriented, and we have always been. We are actually seeing great-grandchildren come through now."
She remembers, for example, when the hurricanes came through in 2004 and 2005.
"We were one of the only restaurants open during that time," she said.
Ms. Webster says the family atmosphere extends to the employees, as well.
"Our employees are the best," she said. "My staff has always supported me. One has worked with me for 28 years. We operate as a family."
The restaurant is active in the community as well, giving back where they can.
"We buy livestock from the St. Lucie County Fair," she said. "We've always supported the fair and the kids, along with other organizations."
The week leading up to Oct. 12, the restaurant is offering its lunch special, normally only available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., all day long.
"We just want to take this opportunity to thank our community for allowing Dale's to serve them for the past 50 years," she said.