Bonding Over Barbecue
story by Alyssa Keown
The Dairyette is on Friendship Road, a fitting address for its homey feel. Friends and families pass through the restaurant every day, sharing stories and laughs over barbecue sandwiches and ice cream. Owner Roy Bohannon decorates the walls with photos of the people of Paducah.
"I don't want you to come one time," Roy says about about his customers. "Come back."
Roy worked for a chemical company for 19 years until 2009, when the economy plummeted. Always planning to retire from the company and open his own barbecue restaurant, Roy suddenly found himself out of a job. So he and his wife, Becky, bought the Dairyette, which has served Paducah for more than 60 years.
"I'm still humbled and nervous," he says about business ownership.
Roy says the hardest part of running Dairyette is hiring the right people, because he believes employees help to keep the tradition of Dairyette alive. He says he is blessed to have the staff he does. Some of the kids have been working there since high school and are continuing to work through college.
"As an owner, you can't do this by yourself, (you must) surround yourself with the right people," Roy says. "Without them, I couldn't do it."
Roy says Dairyette carries a lot of history, and new memories are made every day. When Roy framed the first dollar he made and put it on the wall, a delivery man taped a second dollar up as a joke. Now, customers sign their names on dollar bills and hang them up to leave their mark on Dairyette.
"A lot of people think of this as their second home," says Eric Gross, a regular customer.
"Knowing what I know now, I wish I did this 20 years ago," Roy says. "God closed one door, I lost my job. But he opened another one, and I am so blessed. It's been the best eight years of my life."