Phoenix says Farewell to Cave Creek Fixture Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue After 14 Years

Nikki BuchananFebruary 8, 2023
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In the worst-news-I’ve-heard-all-day category, there’s this: Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue in Cave Creek is closing. Its last day of operation is Saturday, April 22nd, which is also chef Bryan Dooley’s birthday. He and his wife Donna, who has worked side-by-side with him at the restaurant, are throwing a big going-away/birthday party on that day. Naturally, there will be barbecue as well as music and lots of regulars and old friends (which are basically one and the same).

In a text to his customers and friends, Dooley says, “Let me explain. Business is great! Actually this year is starting off very strong. So why are we closing? Well, Donna and I are ready for a change. Life balance. It’s as simple as that! We are still young enough to pursue other interests and we look forward to spending much needed quality time together. This has been a plan that has been in the works for quite awhile and we are excited to move on to the next chapter of our lives. I am personally looking forward to getting out in the woods and doing some fishing!”

Dooley then goes on to thank his staff, past and present, his many loyal customers, and his two adult children, Keely and Jack, who worked every position in the 14 years that the restaurant has been in business. It’s an incredibly sweet text, so full of gratitude and good memories it made me cry.

What many people don’t know is that Dooley was a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. He also spent 15 years working as a chef at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, later using his chef-y skill set to make some terrific (and often way-out) specials, which often ran for a month at a time at Bryan’s.

Of course, he was probably best known for his brisket, but everyone had his or her own favorites. For me, it was the BBQ ribs, which I thought (alongside those at the defunct Don & Charlie’s) were the best in town. For my SO, it was “The Big Pig,” a mess of fries topped with pulled pork, pickled jalapeños, BBQ sauce, scallions and sour cream.

But this will all soon be history, and I have to say, it’s a big loss for Phoenix but an even bigger loss for Cave Creek. If you’re a Bryan’s BBQ fan, you better get it while you can.

Dooley hints that there may be another chapter. Let’s hope for that.