Sunday, April 26, 2009

After 27 Years, Dusty's BBQ Bites The Dust

Sadly more closures in the local restaurant scene as Dusty's BBQ near Emory closed today. Open for 27 years at the corner of Clifton and Briarcliff Roads, the restaurant is said to be continuing operations as a catering only business at a different off site location: Dusty's Catering 215 Laredo Drive Decatur, GA 30030. Repeat Atlanta is not sure if this was a planned closure, but they certainly got their signage down fast. The eatery served their last meal yesterday and by this morning signs were down and moving trucks were picking up equipment, presumably for the catering business. Repeat Atlanta!

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Went by Dusty's last week. They said business was great, but they lost their lease after 27 years. Who knows, but I am definitely going to miss it as there is not another quick in/out BBQ place in the nearby area.

ProShop99 said...

I really hope that's not the case. If the restaurant was in fact doing well, the landlord should have worked with them as I doubt anything is lined up for that corner. The space is small and few people are itching to get in the food business these days.

Anonymous said...

There are plans for improving/expanding access to the Clifton campus for Emory, CDC, etc. I expect the lost lease has more to do with this than anything else.

Anonymous said...

That intersection will be widened very soon. It has gotten accelerated approval and funding due to the CDC being in such close proximity. I ate at Dusty's twice. Both times the food was as if it has been sitting under a heat lamp. The portions were small and it was not particularly very good.

Anonymous said...

With DBA barbecue opening just down the street at N. Highland and Amsterdam (as reported in Repeat Atlanta) barbecue fans are not left out in the smoker.

bigguyatlanta said...

I am very sadden to hear of the closing. My family was in the BBQ business for over 50 years in Chattanooga and I loved Dusty's. I owned Carry Out Couriers which delivered food from Dusty's as well as other local restaurants. The owner was wonderful to work with. I consider her to be a personal friend. I wish her much luck. She was the greatest!

Franklin Sweeney

Anonymous said...

Went to Dusty's the day it opened
with a relative of the owner. Have
been returning every two or three weeks or whenever the craving for eastern NC style barbecue comes upon me! Where on earth am I going
to satisfy this craving now that Dusty's is gone? Ideas, anyone?
Remember, it MUST be eastern NC
style.

Shannon said...

This makes me so sad. I've been eating at Dusty's for the past 10 years. Just got around to taking my Dad there a few weeks ago, because I'd been telling him about it. Glad he at least got to enjoy it once. I'll miss you Dusty's!

Anonymous said...

Went by on Mother's Day to visit my mom and to my utter disbelief I saw that Dusty's was GONE. I was heartbroken. I love Eastern NC BBQ and had recently found Dusty's served it and it was really good, not to mention the homemade pork rinds. Now what am I going to do? Who else in the Metro area serves real Eastern NC BBQ?

Anonymous said...

According to their website, Dusty's catering location at 215 Laredo Drive, Decatur (near DeKalb Farmer's Market and Avondale Estates) is open for lunch from from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. M-F and some outdoor seating is available. You may call ahead at 404-687-8972 to place an order to go.

Anonymous said...

This is a sad, sad day. Our family ate there routinely many times after returning from various appointments at Emory for both of our kids throughout their childhood. That's almost 18 years! My wife preferred their wings. I always had the delima of deciding on only two of the many side items to go with the great NC style BBQ. I hope they can find a way of expanding the catering side back into a restars!uraunt.

Anonymous said...

I wish Dusty's would return. My husband and I are very sad about this. Every time we would go out for BBQ, it would be to Dusty's. They had the best of everything. I will miss those homestyle chips with that dip. There was no better BBQ that Dusty's. We recommend that place to everyone and would take family there when they came down from up north. This really stinks!!!

Anonymous said...

I just heard from a former employee that the owner of Dusty's shot and killed herself, after she lost the lease on her resturant, the sad news about this is that this story got no news coverage, she died and no one in the community still does not know this. The catering buisness stop buisness as soon as this happened, and closed up. For those of you who find this hard to believe contact the Dekalb Co Police Dept her name was Willinda Thompson. I think the community should do something to honor her for the 27 years of great BBQ she provided. She was a very lonley old women with know family and very few friends, the resurant was her life, when she lost it she lost everything. The few employee's she had left did nothing to get the word out to the community about what happened to Ms. Linda Thompson, I do not know if they were ashamed of how she ended her life or just did not care.

Anonymous said...

"with know family"?

"resurant"?

Anonymous said...

I think it's horrible to comment about someone's spelling when she has something so terribly tragic to report. I never went to Dusty's but I am appalled and greatly saddened by her lonely end. It is a pity that this woman, so beloved, obviously, by so many people, should have died this way. That's the point of the note now, wasn't it?

Anonymous said...

I actually knew Linda Thompson and worked for her, and want to clarify a few things. The restaurant was closed because of being so far behind on lease payments. Linda had a heart of gold and would do anything to help a person, but at the same time was a nightmare to work for. She also had a few secrets that would blow a persons mind. And knowing what I know, I think when she killed herself she thought about things from the past and the restaurant closing just put the icing on the cake.

Anonymous said...

I loved Ms . Thompson and do not give a flying f%^& about how she was to work for or her past. Rest in peace Ms. Thompson.

Franklin Sweeney said...

I am so sad to hear this news. Linda, I trust you are at peace now. The world was a better place because of your life and you will be missed. I will always remember you foldly and think of the many kind words you had for me. If I had know things were that bad, I would have been closer. I will always remember you in the future. Love always,

Anonymous said...

Linda Thompson gave me my very first job out of college...in 1991, when I finished school, there were absolutely no jobs available anywhere for your college graduates, and Linda took me in and taught me to do plumbing, electrical work, carpentry. I had none of these skills before her. Later, when I lost my home, she took me into her home and let me live with her. For 18 years, she was my friend, my mentor, my guide in life. I learned of her death soon after she committed suicide, and I only wish that I had called her more frequently, to tell her, as I always did, that I loved her. Linda gave employment and money to the needy...to drug addicts and alcoholics, to elderly women who had no source of income and were about to be homeless, to gay and lesbian youth who had no one to whom to turn. Linda gave me my start in life, and I regret more than anything that no one informed me of her passing and that I was therefore not able to attend her services. Linda, I loved you so very much. Thank you for feeding me that delicious and wonderful food from our home state, thank you for caring for me, thank you for making me laugh, thank you for realizing and knowing that my affection for you was genuine and real. You were another mom and dad to me, I will miss you terribly. I love you.

Dr. Jamie Davis

Clifton said...

I am terribly saddened by the news of Linda's death. I chatted with her at the Loredo Drive location just a week or so before it abruptly shut down, and she was talkative and seemed upbeat. Had been a Dusty's customer since the day it opened and assumed that the wonderful NC-style bbq and Linda would always be around.
How I wish that the customers who'd known Linda for so many years had been aware of her dispair so that we could have tried to help!

Forrest said...

I first started being treated in 1980 at Emory for cancer, I have always lived in Aiken, SC. I remember when the Dusty's first opened. I instantly was hooked on the Brunswick Stew. It was always the little bit of joy that I received while battling the cancer and all the side effects on my trips up to Atlanta. Even up into this past year, whenever I went up to or even through atlanta, the gallon purchase was always a staple. I was very saddened to hear of it's closing, but totally disheartened when I read the comments of the owners death. From my standpoint she was one of the classics in that she not only put out a good product, but also understood what it's like to keep the family atmosphere. My condolences to friends & family!

Reactionary said...

Very sad. I'm reminded of poor Bob "Rocky" Russo. It is so easy to lose perspective over money issues. God rest her soul.

The restaurant biz is very tough these days. People are hunkering down in their homes.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know of a family member to whom those of us who
loved Linda could convey our
sympathy and express our sorrow?

Franklin Sweeney said...

I think her long time lawyer is William A. Back....if you find out anything from him please post here. You are great to be so thoughtful. I have recently been very busy and haven't had time to do anything due to much travel and work. Thanks

kuregal said...

Found an email address for Mr. Back as well as a cousin of Linda's who used to be a Decatur bank president and now lives in FL. Asked both for info regarding where to send condolences. If either or both respond, will post the addresses here. Heard about a place in Ellenwood tht serves NC-style bbq and went there yesterday. Way too
salty and soupy. Guess there's no substitute for Dusty's.

Clifton said...

A neighbor from Wilmington told me of this website. So many people loved Miss Linda. Wish she'd known it! I found Dusty's and her as a homesick freshman at Emory 15 years ago. It was like discovering a little piece of home. Decideed to stay in Atlanta and always went to Dusty's for my bbq fix between trips home. I was so sad to learn that the restaurant closed, sadder still when I learned of her death.

Anonymous said...

regarding the last post, I'm not
Clifton. Just using my neighbor's
computer. Barrie

kuregal said...

Can't bring myself to drive by
the Briarcliff corner or the Loredo Drive location. Makes me
feel depressed.

Anonymous said...

Linda's longtime attorney reports that the family has not yet scheduled a memorial but he would like to participate if anyone wants to plan one. He also said that Southern Voice has been contacted about doing a story on Linda, but they have not responded. In the meantime, this coming weekend, Oct. 3-4, there will be an estate sale at Linda's home at 1502 Brookvalley Lane, off Sheridan Road which Mr. BAck will be supervising. In addition to the usual housewares, the estate will be selling quite a few items of memorabilia from Dusty's and lots of clothes.

Kristi Bracewell King said...

I am a former employee of Dusty's (worked there for 9 years as Catering Director, Administrative Assistant, Restaurant Manager, and also did some accounting work out of her home when I had my 2nd child). Linda was not just a boss, but a true friend and caring soul. When I was hospitalized with a bone infection in my skull as a result of a rare skin disorder, Linda came to see me.
She and I have remained in contact for many years since I stopped working for her after my illness in 2003. She supported and comforted me through my illness, my unfortunate divorce, and my depression. She celebrated with me when I got remarried and had a new baby.
I went to see her at Laredo with my baby and my 2 boys, who basically grew up around her and whom she totally loved. This was about 2 weeks before her demise and she seemed cheerful and loving as always, hugging my boys and talking about when my oldest (who is now 16) was a baby and she let me bring him to our company Christmas Party and he fell asleep under the tree! She had even let me bring my oldest to work with me at the office after he was born and let him be there with me until he was about 6 months old and needed more attention. She sponsored my kids baseball and football teams, and was the most generous person I knew, often inviting those without families to eat with her for Thanksgiving dinner. She would give you the shirt off of her back, and ask if you needed her pants too!
I am truly saddened that there is no stories commemorating her life in the news. I tried to contact a paper that Dusty's used to advertise in to get them to write an article about her but got no response. Maybe someone who reads this blog will have some pull somewhere and contact some of us former employees and restaurant patrons to collaborate something to honor her memory.
I went to the Estate Sale today and it was so hard to be in the house that I used to clean for her, hang out at after the restaurant closed at night after bringing her the night's paperwork and deposits (she didn't want me to go make the deposit at night alone), and just spend quality time with her. Her spirit was all around me, and her neighbor and friend William Back gave me some items that I could remember her by.
Linda was a tough boss, but as long as you did the right thing and did your job, it was never a problem. She had high expectations and wanted to offer the clientele who used the catering service and ate at the restaurant a quality product at a reasonable price with speedy and friendly service. I loved the food and loved Linda and will always remember her for all she did and all she was. She was a believer and I believe that God knew her heart and she is in His care now.
Kristi Bracewell King
kristi.bracewell@gmail.com

ProShop99 said...

Attn All,

It's clear there is a story to be told. It has been suggested that someone look into having Linda's story, life, business and unfortunate death reported on and that needs to happen. Dusty's was a part of the Emory / Druid Hills neighborhood too long no to be honored and remembered properly. While we here at Repeat Atlanta have some contacts in local media, we would like to ask you, our readers to speak to people you may in mainstream media to help get Linda's story told.

Anonymous said...

Just returned from a two month project in Washington State. I'm heartbroken. Wish someone would organize a get together -- maybe at Manuels -- where customers could share stories and memories of Linda and Dusty's.

Randy Forbes said...

Is this blog still open?

Randy Forbes said...

Hello. I was a long time employee of Dusty's Barbecue. I have been away from Atlanta since 2000 and have really lost touch with everyone I knew from Atlanta and with people I worked with at Dusty's.
I wasn't able to sleep last night and Dusty's and Linda came to mind. I decided to look Dusty's up on the internet and see what was going on. I was in shock and absolutely blown away when I read all that had happened. I just cant believe that Dusty's, and Linda are gone.

I knew Linda very well. In fact there was a time when we were like "Family". After reading the posted comments, I have to say that some of them I agree with and some I absolutely do not agree with.
(continued below)

Atlantan99 said...

Hey Randy,

Yes, the blog is still open and active. Though known as Repeat Atlanta at that time, the blog is now operated as ToNeTo Atlanta (Tomorrow's News Today) and as you can see still contains all previous content as well as up to date info on future happenings in and around Atlanta.

Thanks for the question and for readng the blog!

Randy Forbes said...

(part 2)


I met Linda during the time when she had ventured out and started a spin off restaurant called Dusty's Southern Style. Being down on my luck at the time, some friends of mine that I met through a 12 step program introduced me to Linda. I was struggling at the time and needed a job. Like I've known Linda to do so many times, without a lot of questions and demands, she hired me to be a waiter at her new restaurant. During the course of my employment there, she and I became very close. The restaurant didn't survive and was converted to another name, called Miss Lily's Place. Eventually Miss Lily's place, though it was a GREAT idea, failed too. Having proven myself to Linda, she kept me on after the restaurant closing and put me on the Schedule at Dusty's Barbecue. Linda and I had in common that we were both from NC and both loved NC Style Barbecue. In case ya'll didn't know, Linda was originally from Mt. Olive, NC.

I worked at Dusty's for several months when Linda discovered that another long time employee and trusted friend, was embezzling funds from Dusty's checking account. Needless to say that person was fired and prosecuted. At that time Linda needed someone to assist her in the Corporate Office and she chose me. The placement started off as a temporary position until Linda could find a suitable replacement for her office manage. I ended up being Linda's Corporate Assistant, Office Manager, Catering Manager, and close friends for the remainder of my time there which was some 6 years.

Randy Forbes said...

(part 3)

During the time I knew Linda she and I became very close. She treated me like a son. I was a struggling single father raising a young son and when I needed help, Linda was always there. She let me bring Jason, my son, to work with me when he had school off days or really anytime I needed to. When I needed a break, She would let Jason spend the night with her and actually treated Jason like her own Grandson.

During that time I had the pleasure of breeding and raising Dachshunds. Linda loved my dogs. Whenever we had a litter of puppies, Linda insisted I bring them along with their mother to work with me. She would not hear of me leaving then at home alone while I worked. Over the years she adopted 2 of our puppies. One was named Mena and the other Chutney. She loved those dogs as if they were her children. They loved her too!

Randy Forbes said...

(part 3)


I've seen a couple of post here of "Linda's Secrets" and comments about how she was a nightmare to work for. The truth is that Linda was not that easy to work for. However she was always fair. She gave people second and third chances. She hired people that no one else would hire. People accused her of being difficult when in actuality she was just plain HONEST. She made it very clear what she expected and in the same rights she made it very clear when you disappointed her. She had high expectations of her "Team Players". Linda never expected "something for nothing" nor did she expect nothing for the somethings she gave. She always paid her employees about minimum wage, gave Christmas Bonuses and did other nice things that Mom & Pop owners rarely do. She really believed in team work. I was fortunate enough to be on her team and she always included me in decision making when it came to Dusty's and Dusty's Inc. There came a time when to show me her appreciation, she gave me some of her own stock in Dusty's Inc. Free and clear, she just gave it to me. That was the kind of person she was.

As for someone's comment about Linda's secrets and how if they were known, that they'd blow your mind.... Well Linda's secrets weren't really secrets. She was a private person. Linda made some choices and did some things concerning her lifestyle that she thought long and hard about. They were things that she needed to do for herself to be "Happy". These things weren't really secrets. They were Linda's personal business, and people who she chose to share this information with knew all about her decisions and the choices she made. So who ever make those comments, mind your own business. It sounds like you probably disappoinnted Linda at some point and she probably fired you, and now that she is gone you are speaking ill of the dead to try to get back at her. HOW SAD INDEED!!! I suspect that the person who left these negative comments about her personal business was a former employee who for some reason Linda had no choice but to terminate. Linda didn't like firring people. She forgave mistakes and gave many second and third chances. Over the years I saw many meany employees, vendors, and other business associates take advantage of Linda's loving and giving nature. They took anything she would give and then made her the butt of a joke behind her back. Sad how people can do things like that and live with it.
For years, my family would join Linda in preparing a huge Thanksgiving Dinner and we would invite people who had nowhere to go for the holiday or no family to spend it with. It became a tradition.

Randy Forbes said...

(part 4)

I have to admit there were times when Linda and I had our moments. There were times when we had disagreements and didn't get along. But above all that I have to say that Linda gave me probably the GREATEST business opportunity I've ever had in my career. she treated me like family. There was good and there was bad but when the day was over, she alway supported me and was a dear friend.
How many employers do you know that will give an employee in need money advances and take repayment out of a paycheck over time? Linda did this for ALL of her employees. How many restaurant owners do you know who give their employees an employee meal for every shift worked? Linda did. She would not ever allow an employee to leave work hungry. For many years Linda supported the Atlanta Food Bank and donated all of the restaurant's left overs and surplus products to them.
I remember times when I'd get stressed out and need a break. Linda would hand me her personal credit card, take my son for a few days and tell me to take a break and get out of town for a day or two. How many Employers do you know that would do that. She did things like that for me all the time..
In 1996, just before the Atlanta Olympics, my Significant Other, who also was employed by Dusty's Inc decided to start his own restaurant venture in Alabama. I really didn't want to leave Dusty's and move to Alabama, or get involved in this venture. But because of the fact that I was trying to hang on to a relationship, i reluctantly agreed to join the venture. We told Linda that we would be leaving Dusty's. She was hurt and at that point our relationship suffered form these decisions. I have to say now it was the worst mistake I ever made. I left the best job I'd ever had, disappointed someone who took me in when I was down on my luck and treated me like family. Many times I've wished I'd not made the decision that I made. Many times I thought I needed to go to Linda and try to explain to her why I did what I did. But I put it off and I never had that conversation with her. Now I never can.

Randy Forbes said...

(Part 5)


In late 2005 I had occasion to be in Atlanta. I learned that Linda has moved the corporate offices and Dusty's Catering to a warehouse locations in Avondale and I went by and visited her. She was there, working like anyone else, just like she always did. She welcomed me in and showed me around. Treated me as if we were still friends. I'm glad that I have that memory.

I read the comments that Kristi Bracewell left here. She was a food friend and co-worker during my time there. Cristi...Please check your G-Mail e-mail account. I've been trying to reach you.
Thank you for all that you said about our dear departed friend Linda. We know that Linda was very misunderstood by some and adored by many. There will never be another one like her!!!!! Isn't there some way that we can get someone to do a story on Durst's and Linda. She was a great contributer in the business community and the Gay and Lesbian Community as well. Her story deserves to be told! Anyone who would like to contact me, feel free to do so.
Thanks for taking the time to keep this blog going.
Randall A Forbes
RandyAForbes@aol.com
RandyAForbes@embarqmail.com

Randy Forbes said...

(final Comment)

In one of my blogs about i stated that Linda always paid her employees about minimum wage. That was a typo. She paid most employees Above Minimum Wage.

Randy Forbes said...

(part 5)


In late 2005 I had occasion to be in Atlanta. I learned that Linda has moved the corporate offices and Dusty's Catering to a warehouse locations in Avondale and I went by and visited her. She was there, working like anyone else, just like she always did. She welcomed me in and showed me around. Treated me as if we were still friends. I'm glad that I have that memory.

I read the comments that Kristi Bracewell left here. She was a food friend and co-worker during my time there. Cristi...Please check your G-Mail e-mail account. I've been trying to reach you.
Thank you for all that you said about our dear departed friend Linda. We know that Linda was very misunderstood by some and adored by many. There will never be another one like her!!!!! Isn't there some way that we can get someone to do a story on Durst's and Linda. She was a great contributer in the business community and the Gay and Lesbian Community as well. Her story deserves to be told! Anyone who would like to contact me, feel free to do so.
Thanks for taking the time to keep this blog going.
Randall A Forbes
RandyAForbes@aol.com
RandyAForbes@embarqmail.com

RandyForbes said...

LOL>>>> Kristi.. I guess we were "Food Friends" but what I actually meant to write was "Good Friends" Sorry about that. I guess I didn't do a very good job of proofing the comments I made. Everyone forgive me for misspellings and incorrect punctuation. But you get the gist of my comments.

RANDY FORBES said...

TO THE PUBLISHER OF THIS BLOG?

jUST A NOTE. IF POOR LINDA KNEW YOU HAD TITLED THIS BLOG "DUSTY'S BBQ" SHE WOULD ROLL IN HER GRAVE.. SHE HATED THAT. SHE ALWAYS SAID THE BBQ WAS ON INCORECT SPELLING OF BARBECUE. LOL.. SHE WAS VERY FIRM ABOUT THIS.. IT IS "DUSTY'S BARBECUE" SHE WOULD HAVE IT NO OTHER WAY!

Randy Forbes said...

Jamie Davis.... Please contact me... I've been looking for you!
randyaforbes@aol.com
randyaforbes@suddenlink.net