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Sweet and smoky dream: Sisters make their mark on Boro culinary scene
dolan's sisters
Sisters Mary Beth Brown, right, and Lazar Oglesby of Dolan’s Bar B Que. The Garfield natives say they grew up with family gatherings centered around food, so owning businesses that feature great food was only natural.

For the ladies behind Dolan’s Bar B Que and Honey Specialties, cooking has always been a way of life. Lazar Brown Oglesby and sister, Mary Beth Brown, grew up around food and family during gatherings. Their entire family would end up in the kitchen together. 

While each sister is integral to the operation of the two businesses, they each play a different role. Oglesby concentrates on Honey, the sweet side; while Brown focuses more on the smoky barbecue side. 

Dolan’s Bar B Que is located on the Blue Mile in the old McDonald’s location (Statesboro natives will know exactly where it is, no GPS needed). The two showed progress of the restaurant’s overhaul on social media, hyping up locals for the eventual opening. 

The restaurant has a blue plate special on weekdays, brunch available on the weekends and a daily special. They also have a full-service bar with drinks named after many of Statesboro’s old “haunts,” such as Flip Flops and the Woodin Nickel. Statesboro natives (or GSU alumni) will recognize the name of many of the drinks — and most will have a story to go along with them.

Garfield natives Oglesby, 37 and Brown, 33, are the oldest children of Pam and Eddy (Dolan Edward Brown III). Their younger brother, D (Dolan Edward Brown IV) is an insurance agent at BBWH.

“We grew up with a tight-knit family. Our gatherings always centered around food. I think those happy memories made me want to create that same atmosphere in the form of a job,” Oglesby said.

“Cooking has always been something that our family has enjoyed together. Growing up we always baked at our grandmother’s house,” echoed Brown. 

Oglesby started baking cheesecakes and had Honey Catering before the sisters decided to open Dolan’s. 

“Cheesecakes have always been the heart of Honey Catering, now called Honey Specialties. I worked hard to build a name for the cheesecakes by offering them at catering jobs and our restaurant,” said, Oglesby. “Their fame quickly grew and now we are shipping them nationwide. Honey Cheesecakes have made it to California, Hawaii, Alaska and beyond.”

Dolan’s was originally in Millen because the two saw a need for great barbecue in Millen. It was there that Brown realized her love for all things barbecue, according to Oglesby. Brown fell into the role of pit master when they decided to open Dolan’s. 

“Honey has always been Lazar’s baby, so I was looking to have a project that I could call my own. It was definitely a learning process with a lot of trial and error,” said Brown.

“She worked hard to make authentic old school barbecue. She succeeded at mastering a style of barbecue that is quickly fading and people loved her product,” said Oglesby. “Dolan’s name quickly grew. They are two totally separate businesses, but the success of each business individually has helped get our name out there for great food and service.”

It’s rather unique for a woman to be a pit master. And that rarity is part of what makes Brown enjoy the role so much.

“I’ve always been extremely independent, head strong, and willing to take on task that may prove difficult. I have found in the past year or so that there are more women in the pit. I have followed Ms. Tootsie at Snow’s BBQ in Texas. She is a true inspiration to all pit masters, not just women,” she said. 

Pit master duties not only include long hours and the ability to stare down a challenge, but also time and dedication. 

“Pit master duties are endless. They are long hours that start out in the middle of the night and don’t end until 12-14 hours later. It is a labor of love knowing that at the end you have a delicious product. Pit master duties are messy and dirty,” said Brown. “You certainly can’t be afraid of getting dirt under your fingernails, splinters, or more than a couple of burns!”

Despite each one focusing more on their own respective specialties, they worked together to create the recipes that Dolan’s quickly became known for. Oglesby helped to develop recipes for Dolan’s in the beginning. She assisted with the base development of the sauces, but Brown has “tweaked” them over time to make them what we now know. 

“We knew we wanted the stew and potato salad to have a very classic old school taste. I helped get things started and then Mary Beth took charge and made things her own,” said Oglesby. 

Brown says she draws inspiration from various sources, but mostly her own tastes.

“I use several different methods, from watching different shows on Food Network or the Cooking Channel, following fellow pit masters on social media, but most of all just cooking food that I know I would enjoy eating,” she said. 

If you haven’t been to Dolan’s to experience the fast-paced, smoky-smelling atmosphere, then you’re missing out on award winning food. Honey Catering has been winning awards for many years in the Statesboro Herald’s Best of the Boro, taking honors for best dessert, best caterer and many more. 

Brown is proud to boast about their newest win because they just recently opened in Statesboro and have much more competition in town. Oglesby’s shrimp and grits beat out chefs all across the state at the Georgia’s best shrimp and grits cooking competition at the Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival. 

“Mary Beth was there with me and we had a blast cooking together and bringing home the win,” said Oglesby. 

You often hear warnings about working with family, but for these sisters, it has worked out to their advantage. Their mutual love and respect for one another is evident in their praise of each other’s work.

“When Lazar and I first started talking about working together our mother voiced concern because it can sometimes be difficult to work with family,” said Brown. “However, I can honestly say that Lazar is my very best friend. Dolan’s and myself would not have reached the level of success that it has without her support and pushing me to follow my dreams. We constantly bounce ideas off of each other, ask each other for advice, and are each other’s person to call and vent, cry to, or celebrate with. One of my biggest concerns when moving to Statesboro was us not being together every day. We made a promise to make sure that we make time for each other regardless of how busy we are.”

Oglesby echoes the sentiment. 

“People often ask how we get along so well and how we are able to work together. I think the answer is simple. We have a genuine love and respect for one another. We always have each other’s back and are each other’s biggest fan,” she said. “We don’t separate work life from personal life. We treat each other with the same respect, love and admiration no matter what we are doing. I’m thankful I get to do business and life with my best friend.”

mary beth brown
Dolan’s owner and pit master Mary Beth Brown checks on a batch of chicken and ribs. Although she admits that being a pit master takes a lot of time and energy, she says that for her, it’s a labor of love.