Photography by Kathy Tran
While most kids watched cartoons on Saturday morning, Todd Dickerson preferred cooking shows. His curiosity in the kitchen paid off when he was growing up. His mother wasn’t a great cook, and he didn’t always like her food. So he started making meals he saw on TV.
“I see something I like and if it’s something I can’t find here in Dallas, I make it myself,” he says. “Watching a show, you don’t know what [the food] is going to taste like, but I’ve always felt like I could do what they were doing.”
When Todd went to college at Penn State, a fraternity brother’s mom introduced him to a life-changing dish of Sunday gravy. She stubbornly refused to give him the secret recipe, and he spent years trying to recreate it. His version is now one of the signature dishes at his new restaurant BarNone.
The eatery debuted in December at the White Rock Center. The restaurant serves a mix of bar bites, house-ground burgers and hearty dishes, but the core of the menu is sandwiches.
“Sandwiches are the perfect food,” he says. “You just pick them up, and you can put anything on them.”
For a quick, hand-held version of the famous Sunday gravy, try the Gigaton — an Italian loaf slathered in secret sauce and stuffed with provolone, Romano, sausage and meatballs that cook slowly over 18 hours.
BarNone also has five variations of grilled cheese, including one named after Todd’s son Jackson. For his other son, he created a double cheeseburger that he could make and serve quickly to guests during the lunch rush. It comes with two wagyu patties covered in American cheese on a toasted brioche bun, just like Jason would eat it.
Not to be left out, Todd’s wife Jennifer has her own salad — a mix of baby spinach, romaine hearts, avocado, garlic mushrooms, free-range egg and fresh strawberries topped with buttermilk pesto. Jennifer’s company, Bud’s Salads, supplies the restaurant with fresh, pre-cut produce that is easily prepared in the kitchen.
“We’ve gotten good reviews all around,” Jennifer says. “We just need people to come in. We weren’t established before the pandemic, so people didn’t have six months to sit around and think, ‘I need Sunday gravy.’”
Prior to opening BarNone, Todd owned Angry Dog tavern in Deep Ellum for more than 20 years and co-founded Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. But he and Jennifer dreamed of opening a restaurant featuring their own family recipes.
“Those weren’t restaurants where you could have Sunday gravy,” Todd says. “It didn’t fit with the concepts. We wanted to put a restaurant here because we felt there weren’t enough in the area, especially this particular shopping center.”
When conceptualizing the restaurant, he was inspired by the lightning bolt logo on an old San Diego Chargers T-shirt. He drummed up the working name Lightning Tavern and thought it would tie in well with his “lightning dust” seasoning salt mix.
“Everyone I told the name to said, ‘That name sucks,’” Todd says. “They were like, ‘Is it going to be a nightclub? Are you going to have strobe lights?’”
Instead, the couple chose a name that reflects the overall promise to provide the best food, drinks and atmosphere in East Dallas, bar none. The restaurant’s interior is a modern take on the grand saloons of 1950s-era Manhattan. The dining room features a 40-foot, copper-topped bar that is separated from the dining room by a partition. An outdoor patio is also open.
“We wanted it to be very family friendly and casual,” Todd says. “We want people to feel like they can leave the gym and walk right in here.”
BarNone, 214-924-3742, 718 N. Buckner Blvd., barnonedallas.com