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Tim Fisk returned a couple of years ago to his hometown of Fort Myers to visit friends and family. He took his daughter to Rutenberg Park, where as a child he had played youth baseball and football. He pushed her on the swings. As he did, he saw the abandoned Dairy Queen across the street.

Fisk had to have it.

Fisk, Fort Myers High class of 1991, reconnected with his friends Tim Collier (Class of ’92) and Erik Flett (Class of ’93).

What if they bought the building, refurbished it and brought Big Nick’s BBQ from North Carolina to Fort Myers?

About seven years ago, Fisk started Big Nick’s BBQ in North Carolina, naming it in honor of his father, Nick Fisk. Tim Fisk, Collier and Flett went to work.

“We saw it had fallen on hard times,” Fisk said of the building at 9211 Cypress Lake Drive. “It looked like it was a good match when we saw it. It was just instant. That’s us.”

They bought the building for $290,000 in November 2020. They spent all of 2021 gutting it and redoing it.

“Pretty much all that was left was the concrete block and the original kitchen floor,” Fisk said.

Big Nick’s BBQ opened in mid-January to success. They have sold out of meat on seven consecutive days. They have been opening at 11 a.m. and closing by 7:30 p.m., when the 700 pounds of daily meat have sold out. They have been taking Sundays and Mondays off, but they plan to be open seven days a week eventually.

Flett has been overseeing much of the cooking. It’s a ​mishmash of different barbecue styles.

Burnt ends are Kansas City-style. “That’s getting into more of the sweet molasses taste,” Flett said.

Pulled pork is Carolina-style, cooked for 14 to 16 hours. The ribs and brisket are Texas-style. There are also daily specials and an array of “picnic side items.”

It’s takeout only, with online orders or in-person from a window or a drive-thru. Collier said one challenge has been making sure customers ordering online click on Fort Myers and not the sibling restaurants in Murphy or Sylva, North Carolina.

“Growing up here and being able to start a business with your buddies, it’s a dream come true,” Collier said. “It is incredibly hard work, as I’ve learned the last couple of weeks, working this kitchen with some of these professionals. But I can’t remember having more fun and doing it right and putting a smile on people’s faces when they come in and try our barbecue. Having fun with the boys at the end of the night, it’s a great experience. I think we’re bringing something to this town that doesn’t exist and having fun at the same time.”

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