Brad and Krista


The Hickory River Smokehouse venture can be traced to Brad’s first introduction to real Texas barbecue in 1988. Brad first met his wife-to-be Krista, while stationed as a Marine in Hawaii. Krista, whose parents lived in Texas, told her future husband that he was in for a wonderful surprise when they returned there for a visit. She took him to dine on real Texas barbecue. Having grown up in Illinois, Brad had never tasted anything quite as delicious, flavorful, and unique. Little did he realize, at the time, that this innocent introduction to Texas Barbecue would soon change the course of his life.


After working on cruise ships in Hawaii and attending college to be a civil engineer, Brad realized that his passion was to work in the restaurant business, with the goal of bringing this unique style of barbecue to the Midwest. Together, this husband and wife team opened their first location on January 16, 1995 in

Urbana, Illinois, under the name Longhorn Smokehouse. The venture was a total family effort, with family members all joining in to help and to make recipes together.



The Bowman’s opened a second location in Bloomington, Illinois two years later. They then sold that location to build a larger restaurant in Urbana to accommodate the high demand. At that time they changed the name of the Urbana restaurant to Hickory River Smokehouse to better reflect the unique barbecue concept, and to avoid any confusion with a steakhouse chain. The location in Bloomington still operates as Longhorn Smokehouse.



In 2000, the Bowmans realized their recipes were so popular they decided to franchise this concept with professional guidance from iFranchise.

The Bowmans, with their partner Mike Madigan, soon opened a location in Springfield, Illinois, and the Hickory River Smokehouse expansion was on! Franchises later opened in Decatur and Peoria.

Hickory River Smokehouse in Decatur, Illinois, is famous for their Rib Fests! There’s nothing better than a slab of Hickory River’s delicious Smoked Baby Back Ribs!

Peoria likes Hickory River Smokehouse’s “down-home” Texas hospitality and flavorful meats from the smokehouse! Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River, established in the 1600s. Peoria residents know good BBQ, often commenting on Hickory River Smokehouse’s dry-rub, a blend of seasonings that quench their taste buds!

2006 · Ohio

Hickory River Smokehouse opened in 2006 in Tipp City, a quaint little antique town, listed on the National Historic Register, formerly known as Tippecanoe. Hickory River is located conveniently off I-75, just north of I-70. This family restaurant received a warm welcome from the local community, especially after diners tasted the BBQ! Dan and Maria Davis purchased the Tipp City franchise in 2011. This husband and wife team are deeply involved in the community, serving delicious BBQ, and participating in many local events. You can find Hickory River Smokehouse competing with their BBQ at the Ohio State Fair, winning awards every year.

2022 · Champaign, IL

Today, Hickory River Smokehouse has six franchised locations in Ohio and Illinois. Owners Michael and Sinead Madigan have opened a new franchise in the summer of 2022 in Champaign, Illinois. The smokehouse has served Urbana for 24 years, and the Madigans are excited for the growth in southwest Champaign.

Learn more about Hickory River Smokehouse Franchising

Take a look at our franchise website to learn more about Hickory River Smokehouse and how you can open a franchise up today!

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