Dreamland Bar-B-Que History

1958 was a big year for Tuscaloosa. Not only was it the first year that Paul “Bear” Bryant starting coaching at Alabama, it was also the year that John “Big Daddy” Bishop opened his first Dreamland Café. Big Daddy was a brick mason for many years and he longed for another way to support his family. He had narrowed it down to opening either a mortuary or a restaurant and he got down on his knees and prayed for guidance. Legend has it that God told him in a dream that night to build a café on the land next to his home and Big Daddy made that dream a reality.

The original Dreamland Café is located about two miles from the intersection of Hwy 82 and Interstate 59 just south of Tuscaloosa in an area known as Jerusalem Heights. In the beginning, it wasn’t just ribs and white bread. Big Daddy and his wife, Miss Lilly, served many things from sandwiches to postage stamps. The customers always kept coming back for the warmth they felt every time they passed through the door and Big Daddy’s ribs and secret recipe bar-b-que sauce.

Dreamland is still eminently known for bar-b-que ribs. The décor inside the original café is warm and inviting with a big bar, a few tables and booths and a pot bellied stove. It feels like you are attending a family picnic indoors and the ribs are delicious, cooked the same way for over 50 years. Inside you will meet customers whose family have been coming to Dreamland for generations. Big Daddy always said, “You should be good to the grandparents” and his own children would help customers to their cars and open the door for them. The point is that John Bishop didn’t just open a café- he made a place that was home to his children and his family and extended that feeling of love to everyone that came by.

The atmosphere at all of our locations is still a feeling of casual-down home. You can sit at the bar reading car tags or slab boxes signed by our guests and rub elbows with somebody famous or have a great conversation about sports with one of your favorite players. Or like the Bishop family did, you and yours might just go for a great dinner and a chance to be together and talk about how your week was and what you might be looking forward to as a family. The point is, no matter why you are in Dreamland, you will be treated as kin.

The legendary ribs, service and atmosphere are available in our other locations throughout Alabama and Georgia. And, just like a family, we have grown and expanded the mouth-watering simplicity of ribs and white bread to include items such as pulled pork, bar-b-que chicken, hickory smoked sausage, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, house salads served with our own bar-b-que dipping sauce and a true Southern favorite for dessert, banana pudding. That renowned sauce of ours is available at all of the Dreamland Bar-B-Que locations and online in quart size jars. It is the same sauce that Jeanette and John Jr. used to make with their father and have such fond memories about. Now you can take some home and start some great bar-b-que memories of your own.

To find out more about us, please feel free to make yourself at home on our site. You can find your closest Dreamland Bar-B-Que location, learn about our catering departments, find out about our fundraising options and corporate gift packages and get a little Southern goodness shipped right to your door. Whichever route you choose, when you eat Dreamland
Bar-B-Que, you’ll get to discover for yourself why there "Ain’t Nothing Like ‘Em, Nowhere!"