By Suzy Kridner
Baby back ribs, slow roasted and fall-off-the-bone tender, may be the most popular dish at Dustin's Bar-B-Q, but they taste even better when prepared by the restaurant's namesake, Dustin Withey.
The plate of ribs with all the fixin's that Dustin brought out from the kitchen recently was as delicious as it looked.
In addition to the tender baby back ribs, there were homemade baked beans, crinkle cut French fries and garlic bread.
Dustin, 23, a cook at the restaurant's Edgewater location, was only 2 when the first restaurant, started by his grandparents Marian and Winston Tomlinson, was named after him, their only grandchild at the time.
Now the family-owned chain consists of five restaurants in Volusia and Brevard counties. They all have the same menu which keeps the quality consistent, said Dustin's mother, Toni Withey, a manager who goes between the Edgewater location, at 1208 S. Ridgewood Ave., and the DeLand restaurant, at 1375 S. Woodland Blvd.
Her daughter, Christina, 20, works at the Port Orange restaurant.
It's a true family operation with Toni and her husband, Shawn, and her brothers, Roy and Chris Tomlinson, all involved in the restaurants along with her parents.
There's always someone from the family in each location, Ms. Withey said.
One reason for their success, she said, "is we try to keep the product consistent."
"It's hard with five locations but we do it," she said.
The meat is purchased fresh and they cut it for steaks and ribs and for the sliced and pulled pork. Sauces and dressings are homemade as are most of the all-you-can-eat salad bar items.
"We buy what we can locally," Ms. Withey said. "Vegetables are fresher when they don't have to come so far."
The carrot salad with raisins was one of the best I've had. Other salads such as potato salad, macaroni and cole slaw were equally delicious.
"We did a lot of sampling and experimenting before we opened," Ms. Withey said. "My parents put the barbecue sauce together."
Each location makes its own sauce and also bottles it for sale, she said.
In addition to the baby back ribs and St. Louis-style ribs, they have wings in sweet, mild or hot, or Cajun dry rub.
For the beef lovers, New York strip, top sirloin and hamburger steak are on the menu.
Seafood lovers can find fried or Cajun garlic shrimp, or fried catfish, or combos or various menu items.
For dessert, the salad bar has homemade bread pudding and others, such as chocolate and tapioca. The salad bar by itself is $6.99, a real bargain for its many choices.
Now, Dustin's is testing grand finales, small desserts of key lime pie, cheesecake and chocolate peanut butter pie. In addition to the family presence, Ms. Withey said the staff and customers are family.
"Some of our managers have been with us for many years," she said, pointing out that in Edgewater, "Valerie Dunford has been a dining room manager since we opened."
Server Melissa Crabtree said she was in high school when she started as a cashier and has been at Dustin's in Edgewater nearly 20 years.
The wait staff takes time to sing a "Happy Birthday" song during lunch, a gesture much appreciated by the customer.
Locations are 1375 S. Woodland Blvd., DeLand; 1208 S. Ridgewood Ave., Edgewater; 1320 W. Granada Blvd., Ormond Beach; 4908 S. Clyde Morris Blvd., Port Orange; 4908 S. Clyde Morris Blvd.; and 411 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne. Dustin's also caters.
More information online at www.DustinsBarBQ.com