North Carolina BBQ… At a Cultural Crossroads

    Wilburs BBQ
    BobLee
    January29/ 2019

    BLSays logo

    North Carolina BBQ… At a Cultural Crossroads.

    This is…

    • NOT about whether YOUR favorite BBQ Place Is/Is Not THE BEST BBQ PLACE on EARTH.  I’m sure IT is.
    • NOT about “the meat”… or how “the meat” is cooked.
    • NOT about which city or state has THE BEST Barbecue.
    • NOT about the color of slaw or definition of “a hushpuppy”.
    • NOT even about how to spell BBQ / Barbecue / Barbeque… or what part of speech it is… noun or verb.

    Umpteen books and sermons have been generated on those subjects.

    Today’s discourse IS about The Ongoing Cultural Evolution of BBQ.

    In recents months an ever-increasing number of legendary regional / local BBQ “joints” are “going dark”.  The specific reasons vary but there is a disturbing trend.

    NOTE: I don’t like the term “BBQ Joint”, but you know what I mean when I use the term.

    My good friend and premier scholar on “all things Southern Culture” – John Shelton Reed – has coined the term “IHOP BBQ” for barbecue restaurants of more recent vintage that lack the eccentric atmosphere of those BBQ places many of us grew up with a deeply religious affiinity for… … i.e. franchise establishments that may / may not serve good food properly prepared but do so without the “homey familiarity of (insert name of Your Place)”.

    Our subject herein are those places whose “fame” causes people to set out on pilgrimages to experience / re-experience… The Lourdes… The Meccas of BBQ.  I hesitate to list some because any list will evoke “HOW COULD YOU leave out ……!”

    In North Carolina, every mini-municipality with at least a caution light has an “Our BBQ Place”. Traditionally they are small cinderblock buildings or ramshackle wooden structures that have been “grandfathered” by local Public Health inspectors.

    Imagine a pin-headed bureaucrat in Greenville trying to shut down B’s !!  Ain’t gonna happen.  If an inspector visits at all it is to pick up a to-go order. KingsBBQ

    The decor involves ladderback wooden chairs, plastic tablecloths, and lots of framed black/white photos of “grinning glad-handing politicians”, sports figures, local beauty queens and/or C&W singers. … The aroma of the dining room is 50 years worth of however the meat is cooked out back… Eau de Hickory ??

    There is a comforting stereotype to such places. Whether it is in LaGrange or Ayden or Mount Olive or Lexington or Shelby or (Insert Your Place).

    Those  places are disappearing A LOT faster than the polar icecap.

    Do we need a SAVE THE BBQ JOINTS activist mob… wearing little pig snouts and waving misspelled protest signs?

    In the past three months, the planet has lost The Barbecue Lodge in Raleigh… Allen Bros outside Chapel Hill… Bill Ellis’ in Wilson… with UNCONFIRMED rumors that Wilbers’ in Goldsboro is being “done-in” by the new Hwy 70-Bypass that has wiped out 90% of Wilber’s “beach traffic”.

    Lexington’s legendary Speedy’s is being threatened by both highway rerouting AND federal food service regulations.  NO, NOT SPEEDY’S!

    NOTE: That is Wilber Shirley in that picture up-top.  Wilber is, of course, a personal friend of The Bob Kennel and, according to TBK – “A Huge Wolfpack Fan”.

    All of the above establishments date back to the 50’s and have changed very little over 70+ years.  The Founder/Owner was still an active hands-on presence over the whole operation.  Do the math… the Founder/Owners are getting OLD.   “Getting” Hell… They ARE Old.

    Operating any restaurant is hard work… long hours… and re-occurring “issues” that never go away.  Because a barbecue restaurant involves long hours of meat preparation regardless of “how”, the time/effort/oversight is simply a daily reality.

    Studies of family-owned businesses indicate that “the 3rd generation” is where the interest starts to dissipate.  The Patriarch had the driving passion to “birth” the business and see it thru the various growing pains.  He – its usually a ‘he” with businesses from The 50’s – creates The Brand but no one used such a trendy phrase as The Brand back then.

    The Founder’s sons/daughters grew up with the (very profitable) business and their on-going involvement was “a given”.   Their sons & daughter, alas, not so much so.  That 3rd generation sees how hard grandddaddy worked as well as their parents… and their passion often isn’t inherited.   There are exceptions… that prove the rule.

    Many of those hometown bedrock and quite eccentric BBQ places are now at that 3rd generation point.

    In Kinston in the 60s there were two BBQ choices – King’s  and The Barbecue Lodge (AKA “Mr Kornegay’s).  One’s choice was often based on proximity.  I was a Barbecue Lodge guy.  It was about two miles from home.  Every trip back home in the 70s, 80s, early 90s included a meal at The Barbecue Lodge. … UNTIL… one visit in the mid-90s and Mr Kornegay’s was a Mexican All-You-Can-Eat.  YIKES!!

    In the ensuing years it has vacillated between Mexican and Chinese.  25 years later, I can’t drive by without thinking “That’s just not right…” and wishing for one more “Barbecue / Brunswick stew combination with an extra side order of barbecue…”

    NOTE:  A new 70-ByPass is destined to by-pass King’s in the next 6-8 years.  FWIW… in the 50s, King’s is where I first noticed “separate facilities” for “Coloreds”.

    Now there is Ken’s Grill on Hwy 70 in LaGrange… just 4-5 miles further out than “Mr Kornegay’s”.  “Ken’s” is Kens Grillthe stereotype described up above.  I’ve been 3-4 times… but it’s not “where I grew up”.

    For Southern Baby Boomers, Your Growin’ Up BBQ Place is special.  A fancy IHOP BBQ Restaurant just isn’t the same.

    That said… I’ve never had a religious attachment to “barbecue”.   Many do and I respect that.  Some take it to the extreme which can get a bit scary.

    I prefer chopped-pork with a vinegar-based sauce, slaw and hushpuppies because that’s what I grew up with.   I’m fine with Western NC barbecue too… and I’ve enjoyed both Arthur Bryant’s in KC and Sonny Bryan’s in Dallas.  Never been to The Rendezvous in Memphis, but will if I’m ever in Memphis again… if it’s still there.

    The whole Southern Barbecue “Thing” has mirrored my Baby Boomer Generation as has so much of American culture.  Barbecue restaurants evolving (dissolving?) with “the times” joins many aspects of cultural evolution.

    There were so many of us Baby Boomers that, I guess, our plaintive cries of NO! NO! in defiance of cultural evolution may be louder than past generations… alas, I fear “our culture” is, like the dinosaurs, destined for a bottomless tar pit somewhere.

    Today in The R/D/CH Triangle there must be 20+ restaurants that advertise as “a barbecue restaurant”… IHOP ones as well as quasi-traditional.  The difference is whether they have a Board of Health certificate displayed… and do the framed b/w pictures by the cash register include any grinning politicians… athletes… or beauty queens that all look like Esther Williams.

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    Want to learn more about Southern Barbecue Culture?  John Shelton Reed is Da Mancheck-out his website – TrueQue.org

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    2,000 MORE BobLeeSays… LINK

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    PS:  In this, their 12th month on this Planet, my Granddaughters – Twinkle & Scooter – have been subjected to two weeks of SUB-ZERO (not sub-freezing… SUB-ZERO!) temperatures and two feet of snow in Madison WI.   YIKES!

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    BobLee
    • Jim Reply
      2 months ago

      Having grown up in Grifton, Haddock’s Grill out by DuPont on Hwy 11 was our meeting grounds for a Sandwich and a Pepsi in the mid to late 60’s. Absolutely loved Scott’s in Goldsboro, Wilbers, and my go to place Parkers in Wilson. Spent many a night doing Rotary BBQ with Fats Sauls (originally from Eureka) refighting the European Portion of WWII. He was a legend cooking for the VFD, Rotary, and just about anyone in the community who needed his help. When chopping and spreading his personally made sauce, you ignored the cigar ashes dropping into the mix.

      • BobLee Reply
        2 months ago

        The food and people AND the place all added up to the total enjoyment and the memories…

    • Doug Reply
      3 months ago

      A good hussy story,”my trophy wife killed off a barbecue empire? is much juicer than a by-pass killed my business.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        ABSOLUTELY! Show me any BBQ joint that has persisted profitably for 50 years and I guarantee there has been a “young hussy” or two or three involved somehow…

    • Doug Reply
      3 months ago

      Restaurants open and close for many reasons. Some obvious, some not so obvious. As many already know Bill’s Barbecue in Wilson suddenly closed in mid January. Bill’s son had opened Marty’s Barbecue on Ward Blvd in Wilson well before Bill’s closed. I have a friend in Wilson I’ve known and worked with for over 30 years and asked him the other day why did Bill’s son open up Marty’s? I received the following reply:

      “It’s a multi year saga. Long story short, the young hussy Bill married few years ago decided she knew how to run the business better than anybody, fired (Bill’s son) Lawrence Ellis and preceded to mismanage things, especially the food, until they went broke. Lots of old Wilson people are glad, she was a b***h. Lawrence opened Marty’s about a year ago, maybe, and finished, what was left of Bill’s, off. Bravo! Marty’s is good, just like Bill’s was a long time ago.”

      Who’da thunk something like that could happen?

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Don’t we all love a good “young hussy” story…. hubba hubba…

    • M. Smith Reply
      3 months ago

      Great article. Sad to see this happen. One book on this subject your readers should check out. Our Vanishing Americana.

      Discussion of all of these iconic NC places going away. http://lorimerpress.com/2011/08/our-vanishing-americana/

      I was at Lexington BBQ recently, and I came across perhaps the bridge between East and West- Do they all have that exact same broken brick floor? Seems like I recall tha from Parker’s in Gnvl. And on the subject of the new places… Sam Jones is a new space, but that Cue is incredible.

      Thx for your great insights on the important subjects of our time (and State)

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        “Great insights” might be a bit of hyperbole, but I’ll take it. Glad you enjoyed it. If one set all the WestNC and EastNC BBQ places side by side I bet there would be A LOT of similarities… except the sauce and color of slaw of course.

    • Frank Styers Reply
      3 months ago

      My favorite BBQ place in Farmville closed late last year Jack Cobbs BBQ. To us in ir from Farmville it was the best ever and for sure it was the leanest BBQ I’ve ever had! No trash at all just seasoned well and clean. Has always been a must for us tailgating at ECU. Here to age of Rudy Cobb, Jacks son was its demise as no one wanted to do the work to pit cook the pigs all night to serve the next day. Will miss it and the ribbs!

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        A too familiar scenario these days…

    • fayettewuf Reply
      3 months ago

      I don’t argue tastes and preferences. I do applaud trying to hold on to traditions. Honestly, I judge BBQ joints by their brunswick stew. I won’t list the traditional jmnts that fall short in the stew department to my taste, which was formed by the stew a man named Mr. Brittain Webb cooked. The guarantee that he was cooking your stew guaranteed the success of any stew sale for any group in southern Edgecombe county. His recipe is still a closely held secret and still sells stew.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Brunswick stew is NOT glorified vegetable soup. 😄

    • JoeRal Reply
      3 months ago

      Excellent column and replies – brings back a lot of my very similar memories. My home town in SE NC had a great BBQ spot, hang-out, with drive up cars and curb service available. Good slow cooked wood BBQ but the best was the roast pork sandwich. 1/3 lb of stacked sliced BBQ shoulder, sauce, mayo , L&T on toasted bread. A meal, at $.40. After, the local BMOCs would back out and peel-off in their hot ’57 – ’58 Chevy or Ford and we’d listen as they also ‘got rubber’ in 2nd and 3rd gears. Great times – now gone. Agree on the BBQ Lodge and Wilbers. New places like Moore’s in Morehead City (pass down generation from Moores’s in New Bern) is pretty good, so is City BBQ around Raleigh and has good pulled pork and excellent brisket. But not the ‘old’ stuff, sigh.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        For reasons I can’t put my finger on, I don’t care for City BBQ. Hopefully the “how to cook it” will get passed down but I fear the “full experience” of the old places will be left to our memories.

    • Doug Reply
      3 months ago

      Re: Red Hot & Blue has 25 restaurants and corporate offices are in Winston-Salem. A few years back RH&B finally opened a restaurant in W-S at possibly the worst location imaginable. It was actually pretty good in an IHOP’y way and I went a lot knowing I wouldn’t have to fight crowds. The restaurant closed after a couple of years and the firm never reopened another.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        My visit to RHB earlier this week reminded me why I don’t go very often. Old Timey was more my style.

    • Baltimoreheel Reply
      3 months ago

      Ah one of my fav topics. Even though I live in baltimore now my heart still resides in my “bbq joints” back home in Lexington and Thomasville. Starting in Lexington “Lexington Bar-B-Que Center” opened in ‘64 or so. Ate there as a child, still eat there when I come back home (on rare occasions now). Owner died a few years ago and now run by his wife and family. Ironically hot dogs and nana splits are the best there for me. Nana splits size is for family!!! Biggest ever. Hot dogs are wonderful. BBQ however not the best. I have to go to my home town of Thomasville to “Tommy’s” for that. Vinegar based and wonderful red slaw only served in certain parts of N.C.! Tommy caught a nasty case of Alzheimer’s several years ago. “Tommy’s” is still (as of 9 mo ago) there but unsure of the ownership. My family has died off so I don’t get back often but the memories live on🥰.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Your story is typical of MANY who grew up and left NC but never lost their growing-up memories of THEIR local BBQ place. To go back and find it hasn’t changed much over 20-30-40 years is a comfort in a world where “been there a long time” can mean 10 years.

    • Former96Heel Reply
      3 months ago

      Here is my ignorant Carolina question. Do other states have their variety or version of small restaurateur that fits this same mold as the BBQ shack? I imagine the Jersey diner may be close, but is there regional fare like this elsewhere I missed growing up here? Ohio chili parlors maybe? Philly cheesesteaks I guess?
      .
      My side of the state also had fish camps, which are also on life support, but the Cue place was so much better, food-wise. Just imagining how sad to have grown up in a world without a local smokehouse BBQ joint.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        EXCELLENT QUESTION! And your examples pretty much are the answers… New Jersey diners… Ohio Chili parlors… fish camps… Philly Steaks… I suspect Louisiana / Nawlins have some version… Texas “Roadhouses”… AZ/NMex/SoCali taco/burrito places…. Maryland crab shacks… Maine lobster houses… Chicago/NYC pizza places
        .
        One could probably write my same article about each of those stereotypes and fierce local loyalty of their patrons. … “You haven’t really had _____ until you’ve had it at ____!… Theirs is Special”

    • Mayberry Jim Reply
      3 months ago

      This story from WGHP reiterates your observations well:

      https://myfox8.com/2018/01/29/at-86-bob-burleson-still-going-strong-at-renowned-kepleys-barbecue/

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        That could be Bullock’s in Durham or any number of others across NC which is not to belittle Mr Burleson / Kepley’s. I don’t think there is a “How-To” book or course for establishing a successful “down home” BBQ place… But somehow they all end up conforming to a “type”. That “type” seems to work very well at least for “our generation”.

    • Gary Barker Reply
      3 months ago

      The best part of BBQ was the individual proprietors. All independent individualist that could be counted on for a good story. I treasure the times the owners would stop by our table while we enjoyed their fare. It saddens me each time I learn of an old time place or owner passing on.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        ABSOLUTELY! There was/is an eccentric stereotype to them… a “hail fellow well met” genuiness that made one think he was their best friend as he “worked the room”.

    • ENC1 Reply
      3 months ago

      Ken’s, King’s, Parker’s, Bill’s you have a Final Four of BBQ IMO…..I do admit The Pit in downtown Raleighwood is good Q but the silver ware and plates too fancy for me (also don’t need a bar in a BBQ joint IMO).

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        A list that includes Ken’s and The Pit pretty much covers the full range of the BBQ spectrum.

    • Former96heel Reply
      3 months ago

      Will this be a bl top ten in views?
      .
      I knew the third generation of Maurice’s Piggy Park in SC. Talk about big shoes you really don’t want to try to fill. They knew better than any, times change, even though they are running the restaurants all the same.
      .
      Beyond the joints, there is still lots of good new cue out there. The ihop versions even go out on the limb and have turkey and brisket, which the old school places would never have considered.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        HA! This column IS doing very well… but “Did Carolina Marry A Stripper’s” record is safe. Someday I am going to go with “Nekkid Homicidal Lesbian Cheerleaders” and try to set a new record.
        .
        If the traditional shacks / joints go away, their customers WILL seek new sources for their BBQ Fix. I was at Old Time on Hillsborough for lunch today and they were packed in what is basically a “doublewide”.

    • Banks Randolph Reply
      3 months ago

      Great article BL! As always your timing is impeccable. Not long after you posted this ode to cue did Stephen Colbert describe all of us as “poor flavor deprived bastards” with our love for BBQ. Poor fellow has no doubt ever tasted Wilbur’s or Honeymonk’s (as the original Lexington BBQ is known) finest.

      FWIW one of my criteria for good cue is the woodpile. No woodpile in the back and I keep on driving.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        You, sir, are a man after John Shelton Reed’s heart. JSR is on a crusade to shutdown all BBQ establishments that use “gas”. NC’s influx of left-wing loonies in the Triangle and Charlotte areas also does NOT bode well for BBQ business.

    • UncBlue Reply
      3 months ago

      My guess is they will survive and saved by those willing to work the required long hard hours. Saved by Hispanics. Good for them.
      BTW-still elated the Folt is gone!

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Some will … but many will not. Tough Bizness.
        .
        Chihuahua had a ByBy Pizza Party for her adoring fans last night… lots of selfies and tears … but not from me and you and many others.

    • DM Carpenter Reply
      3 months ago

      BobLee:
      Your mention of Shrine Brunswick Stew made me smile. My Lodge used to have an annual BBQ Fundraiser, until someone decided that a ‘golf tournament’ would be more fun. I have fond memories of the Tyler and I meeting on a Sunday after church to make the sauce and slaw.
      .
      May 18, run out to the Fairgrounds, and graze at the 14th Annual PigJig.
      .
      Was it not Rufus Hisownself, who committed political Hari-kari, by declaring his dislike for BBQ?
      .
      Outstanding column.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Not sure about Rufus… but I’m sure Honky Tonk Angels love BBQ!

    • Jim McCabe Reply
      3 months ago

      Never been to Skylight? That’s heresy! First heard about it when I worked in the Reagan Administration in Washington. They held an annual BBQ cook-off between SC and NC. Ole Pete Jones blew away the competition. It was after that when my BBQ snobbery began. Only pork cooked over hard wood for me.

      Your unconfirmed rumor about Wilber’s is very upsetting. I’m still grieving over Allen & Son shuttering their doors this past December. Another true wood burner up in smoke.

      Really enjoy your column. Keep up the good work.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        You are a John Shelton Reed kinda guy… I have added both B’s and Skylight to my Bucket List. 🙂 … this column has re-confirmed the Wilber’s rumor… business off 50% with the new By-pass.

    • James Gaster Reply
      3 months ago

      I am 61 years old and I grew up in Fayetteville. I remember my dad loading up the family on an occasional Saturday afternoon and driving to to Parkers in Wilson for dinner and then back home. I love BBQ, all styles but being raised on Eastern NC that is my favorite. I have enjoyed Wilber’s, King’s, Bill’s and B’s. I always try to visit Stamey’s when in Greensboro (Has it Reopened since the fire?). I also enjoy the mustard based SC bbq. I currently live in Wilmington and make do with the local offerings, but I am always ready for a BBQ road trip, ala Dad.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        YIKES… you ARE a BBQ Aficionado for sure. I like the SoCar mustard sauce too.

    • Doug Reply
      3 months ago

      BobLee, your Skylight Inn and B’s fix is easily correctable. But be forewarned, Skylight doesn’t do Brunswick Stew. Luckily for Raleigh, Sam Jones, scion of the Skylight Inn, will soon open in Raleigh. Despite the recent demise of some temples there are slivers of good BBQ news.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        I can see you, me, Henry Hinton and Dr Paul Camnitz solving all the world’s problems in B’s parking lot…
        .
        Last night I dined at an IHOP BBQ – Red, Hot & Blue. Today’s I’m lunching w/ Alpha Wolf at “a real BBQ place” – Old Timey on Hillsborough St Ext. THEY have B-Stew.

    • Queen City Reply
      3 months ago

      If B’s in Greenville ever offers free WIFI or creates a twitter account I will stop going there. Loved your article….

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        I am ashamed to admit I have never been to B’s or to the Skylight Inn in Ayden…

    • Mayberry Jim Reply
      3 months ago

      I believe you are correct; the author was John Shelton Reed and the book title was simply “Barbecue”. I think the word came from “barbacoa”.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        I will make sure JSR sees your comments. Now retired, he travels the globe lecturing on Southern Culture to curious folks in faraway places. I could see him “holding court” in one of Floyd’s barber chairs in Mt Ary! …

    • Mayberry Jim Reply
      3 months ago

      Once 10-15 years ago while travelling where there were no other choices but NPR, I heard them interview a fellow who had written a book about the evolution of BBQ in America. It sounded as if he knew what he was talking about, and the regional differences in meats and seasonings came down to what was available (plentiful and cheap) at the time that area was first “settled”. He stated the first BBQ was in the coastal regions and all they had was pigs, vinegar, and salt, and maybe pepper. Then as settlement moved westward, they added sugar, and when people began eating tomatoes that was added too. Mustard was popular in some places. In parts of Kentucky, BBQ is lamb. Of course farther west, beef was used more so than pork. I don’t remember the author or the name of his book, but hopefully someone in your audience can enlighten us. I am a western piedmont native so you know my BBQ preference, but in my travels I have found great Q all over, some I liked better than others, but I applaud all the BBQ purveyors and appreciate their efforts.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        That expert may have been John Shelton Reed. JSR was a Professor of Southern Culture at UNCCH for 20+ years. “I think” BBQ evolved from slaves having to utilize every part of a pig to feed their families. I think “barbecue” evolved from a Caribbean word for “burn the meat” …”barbacore” or something.

    • Wolfdon Reply
      3 months ago

      About 30 years ago I spoke to Bill about catering a group of about 300 fellow workers at Ft Belvoir , Va . The deal fell thru due to the skepticism of my boss who was a native of Rome NY and had no idea. I learned from Bill that they had been catering Ted Koppel and group over on the Eastern shore of Maryland for years. Don’t know whether Ted partook of the pork but thought this was an interesting item at the time.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        I bet we would be shocked at all the places Bill Ellis has hauled his catering operation to.

    • Kent Hobson Reply
      3 months ago

      BL,
      Being from the western Piedmont (Camel City), I’ve had the privilege of dining at some of the best Lexington style BBQ establishments. (none of my favorites are a “joint”) I grew up on Hill’s BBQ, then Blackwelder’s, then Sherwood BBQ. Now it’s Little Richard’s in Clemmons. Having relatives in the Eastern part of the state, I first sampled BBQ Lodge in Kinston. Then I saw the light and went “down East” to school (ECU). Well, there was Parker’s in Greenville that had a family style fare that starving college boys just loved. There are great things on either side of the fence – Lexington Style or Eastern Style. I like them both.

      Take care,

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        The world needs more open-minded barbecue lovers. 👍… I’m eating in an IHOP BBQ as I type this … 😎

    • robedixon Reply
      3 months ago

      I really do not have a my barbecue joint. We generally hit Parkers in Wilson when we want some cue since it is the closest mileage wise that meets our fix need. When I was younger every Saturday night in Ktown meant Dad and I hitting up the Barbecue Lodge. This was his and my one go out meal each week so it was special. Like you I look at it occasionally on the way to da beach and wonder what reincarnation restaurant will be the next occupant. I suppose as time passes no one will be alive to remember it as The Barbecue Lodge. As for the beach yet to find anything down there that even qualifies for being called barbecue.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Closest is probably the Smithfield Chicken place in Havelock. Not worth the time/distance from EI. Not sure what the downward spiral is for old BL location by White Owl… BBQ > Mexican > Chinese > ???

    • Old Alpha Wolf Reply
      3 months ago

      Hmmmm, BBQJew says Ole Time is not wood. Google (that;s never wrong) says they are wood…

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        As long as its not micro-waved… see you tomorrow…

    • Bill Funderburk Reply
      3 months ago

      Loved the article. I grew up in Charlotte but went to UNC in the ’60s and fell in love with the eastern style, like Ed Mitchell’s pulled whole hog, peppered vinegar and coleslaw sandwiches.

      The same tread away from “joints” is occurring in Alabama. One of Alabama’s most famous joints was Tuscaloosa’s Dreamland. Big Daddy served ribs, sauce, and white bread…period. People stood outside, ordered, and left. The “brand” was bought out and now expanded to multiple cities and the menu includes ’bout every dang thing you can eat under one restaurant roof. It’s nothing special now.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Wasn’t the original Dreamland a favorite of “Bear” Bryant. Wonder if Nick takes recruits there? It is a ramshackle hole-in-the-wall place as I recall… ALWAYS PACKED!

    • Doug Reply
      3 months ago

      Not much I can add other than I’ve eaten BBQ at The Rendezvous (ribs) and enjoyed it but the best BBQ I’ve had out of NC was at Moonlight Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro KY and two or three other places in the area I can’t recall the names of but one was in Hopkinsville, KY. Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway, SC is great and if I’m the Goldsboro area I prefer Grady’s in Dudley. Barney Kornegay at The Barbecue Lodge in Kinston made my favorite potato salad.

      My simple, almost foolproof, guide to good BBQ is if you don’t smell wood smoke, keep driving.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        He was always “Mr Kornegay” to me. I was in HS with several of the King boys. The Kings sold “Kings” to a long-time employee 6-8 years ago. They’ve been flooded twice since then.

    • Arnold '69 Reply
      3 months ago

      When our community still had a volunteer fire department their fund raiser was a barbecue every November. I certainly wish I could get it now as haven’t found anything quite like it in the few places I’ve been.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        The cooking circumstance definitely enhances the flavor… “all night in the parking lot of the high school football stadium” can’t be beat …

    • Jay Reply
      3 months ago

      My wife is from Greensboro. We have to hit Stamey’s every time we visit. Nice location by the Coliseum. That BBQ place will likely out live us both.

      BTW, you were right about the Bama trivia question I left you two weeks ago – before Clemson beat the Tide this month the last team to beat Bama by 28+ points was VT, 38-7, at the 1998 Music City Bowl. Most of that Hokie team returned the next year, along with a freshman QB by the name of Vick. – Jay

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        THAT was way back when Bud Foster was just a baby Guru… 🙂

    • Mark Corbett Reply
      3 months ago

      Mr Kennel is correct about Wilber being an enormous NC State fan. He is also a major supporter of the Democratic Party, and his restaurant is considered the de facto hq of the Wayne County Democratic Party. That said, I doubt he shares many of the views of those currently causing the extreme leftward-shift in said party. Although I am on the other side on those two subjects, I can personally attest to the fact that he is a fine man, an upstanding citizen, and very generous. I have been involved in many church/scout/etc fundraisers over the past 35 years, and numerous times, he has either severely discounted, or outright given us slaw/hushpuppies/potato salad for our events. When I was serving as chairman of the local GOP many years ago, one of the true believers pulled me aside and warned me not to be seen at Wilber’s. I just laughed and said “you’ve got to be kidding”. Nothing is coming between me and my favorite barbecue. (They also almost ran me out of the party for fraternizing with the local DEM chairman, who was/is a friend of mine, but that is another story.) Keep up the good work, BobLee.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        HAA! So you think Wilber Shirley has NOT installed a trany restroom, huh? Interesting how these troubling times are effecting niches in our society.

    • Robert P. Kennel Reply
      3 months ago

      BL, this truly a classic both in writing style and history !!
      .
      I’m partial to Wilber’s although I was out of state so long that I sometimes spelled it “Wilbur’s”. Agree with your whole piece.
      .
      We had an NC State Alumni picnic (with Barbeque) each summer when we lived in N. Virginia for 22 years. It was always the second Sunday in June with kids out of school but before vacations started. In the early years Bryce Younts from the Alumni Association or Jimmy Bass from the Wolfpack Club would pick up the barbeque in Raleigh or Louisburg for the 200 or more people we always had. In 1983 we had an outside sit-down barbeque dinner in the backyard for 425 people:>)) We had a county flood plain behind our house which I maintained with a full softball field of dreams on it.
      .
      In the last 10 years we started having Bill’s barbeque vans bring the food up along with the aroma. In the last three years before retiring and moving back to NC in 1998, we had Wilber’s bring a truck up. We usually had a prominent politician like Walter Jones Sr. or a rising sports star like Shawn Miller give a speech.
      .
      After the Jimmy Valvano mess at State, Wilber had been very disappointed in a meeting with the Chancellor and had turned off on State. There was one morning I was driving from Virginia to Kennel’s Beach and stopped at Wilber’s to get some good barbeque. As I walked through the door, there was Wilber himself with a hammer in hand and an ECU pirate emblem on the floor and taking down the long cherished Struttin’ Wolf at the entrance to his main dining room. We had a “come to Jesus” meeting right there. Struttin’ Wolf is still hanging there. However the bypass is more than a casual problem (PS: Chuck Kornegay who was with State basketball several years under Les Robinson worked at Wilber’s)
      .
      Back home the only new barbeque place I found was lunch with you and John Shelton Reed at the little barbeque joint just off of I-40. My wife and I go in there when we’re in the area, but I’ve also learned to love their turkey barbeque (maybe I need a “come to Jesus” meeting).

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        As I noted to Harper Cooper (my other “Old Catcher” friend… Harper was a Kinston Eagle (Pirates) in the early 60s). I love when folks take pride in their Hometown in any form. It’s when they adamantly declare THEIRS is BETTER than everyone else’s that I take humbrage. Barbecue tends to bring that out in folks.
        .
        Read JSR’s website. JSR has STRONG opinions on how barbecue is cooked properly!

    • Harper Cooper Reply
      3 months ago

      I grew up on Arkansas BBQ. Pretty Good Stuff. Now, I live with Texas BBQ. Pretty Good Stuff.. The meat is basically the same (or should be) and how it is smoked has some variations. But, it is all in the taste buds. I don’t care for the eastern vinegar flavoring myself . I like the tangy, spicy stuff (politicians or no politicians). You are correct. It is the first generation mom and pop stores that continue the tradition that people will drive miles and miles just to get some of that finger licking stuff.
      .

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        I love folks who take pride in “their barbecue”. It’s the ones that declare “Ours” is better than everyone else’s that rankle me. I do believe regional barbecue tastes are learned at an early age.
        .
        Did you see where Steve Blass is retiring as a Pirates broadcaster? FWIW… I would NOT give anyone a 10 year contract. Pay the SUPERSTARS a lot of $$$/year but not for 10 years.

    • NCSU68Grad Reply
      3 months ago

      Nice piece, BL.
      .
      My DW likes Danny’s in Cary. He has closed the Morrisville location (was larger, but no profitable) and has limited lunch hours on Miami Blvd. Brisket is her choice…so we go there a lot. We help with the annual church BBQ and purchase enough to tide us over…..and have been known to frequent the Smithfield enterprise (Chicken and Q) for the hot dogs as well as their “family pack”.
      .
      There was a recent discussion on Brunswick Stew on a Wolfie site. Some interesting factoids about BS, as well as some REAL BS. My late inlaws were Henderson folk. They, like many that I have met, chose their Q joint….not on the quality or consistency (visit to visit) of the Q, but on the BS. They frequented Skippers….but would from time to time, hit Nunneries….as Skippers usually ran out of BS.
      .
      Here is an interesting article (GOD FORBID….the NYT….but seems to be factual before the days of FAKE NEWS. It sheds a little light, according to the author.
      .
      https://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/24/travel/fare-of-the-country-who-invented-brunswick-stew-hush-up-and-eat.html
      .
      If we go out for Q, then if the DW has a tooth for BS, that will be the deciding factor….assuming she is not Hell bent on Brisket. I have offered the Angus Barn and Winstons as alternatives….but then mention Dannys and she grabs the keys.
      .
      Hope family is warm. I HAVE been in Duluth when it got down to MINUS 27 (overnight) and the rental car company wanted a deposit on the extension cord for the block heater. Told them I was in the Holiday Inn, downtown and they did NOT have outlets. Told to use their parking deck and park on the INSIDE near the building and between two large trucks….TRUE STORY….
      .
      Next day, went to the job site, which was “DOWN, literally, the hill and close to the lake”. You can NOT fathom how cold -27 dF is until you see droplets of freshly discharged urine FREEZE on the plastic funnel in the porta-potty. I had to UPGRADE the PortaJohn to a HEATED one and pay rent on the propane tank after that….otherwise, my project superintendent was going to quit….
      .
      THEN….it warmed up….only -5. Gassed at a station RIGHT on the lake with a 45 MPH WIND….another NEW experience….and it took me 5 days to warm up…

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        I admit to being a hard-core Brunswick Stew guy first / foremost. Especially if Shriners stay up all night stirring it in 55 gallon drums with a canoe paddle… same with “Fish stew”. DO NOT try to pass off glorified vegetable soup to me as Brunswick Stew!
        .
        Luckily TeamMadison does not have to venture out. Twinkle & Scooter have not been outside in over a week. Kid only on two occasions. With “chill factor” it has gotten into sub-zero double digits…

    • John Shelton Reed Reply
      3 months ago

      Thanks for the kind words, and for posting the link to the website for the Campaign for Real Barbecue. You’re absolutely right that the old-time, wood-cooking, family-run places are an endangered species in the Carolinas. They deserve at least a farewell.
      .
      Tooting my own horn: After the 2016 elections i wrote an op-ed for the N&O about the relationship between NC barbecue and the national Democratic party that you might check out:
      https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article119551983.html

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Interesting how the Democ/Repub constituency shift in NC over the past 50 years may have affected BBQ. Pretty sure no “BBQ Joints” have “Trany Restrooms”. I’m SURE Governor For Life Jim Hunt has consumed A TON of chopped pork in his political career.

    • Jon Ham Reply
      3 months ago

      I just thought of your daughter, son-in-law, and the grandbabies when I heard the weather report for Madison on radio a few minutes ago. I hope they bundle up. Also, a Kero-Sun heater saved us many times over the years when the power went out, especially in January of ’85 in Richmond when it got down to -10. It’s always good to have an alternate heat source at those times.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Fortunately the “older home near campus” they moved in to this summer is VERY solid and well-insulated so all are toasty. “Retail essentials” are only two blocks away. Wisconsiners are used to “Winter” (Lands End is HQed in Madison) but this spell has even the natives restless.

    • Kenith Reply
      3 months ago

      Barbeque and politicians, now there is a subject for many columns. I honestly believe one of the reasons Fred Smith lost in the primary a few years ago was his “I am gonna have a rally and serve barbeque in each of our 100 counties” campaign. You just cannot take White Swan que anywhere west of the Pee Dee river and expect good results, either the stuff does not travel well or they just have a different idea of roasted pig. Now I love all of it and had bypass surgery when I was 38 to prove it. Once I tried to write a book on the theme of using coleslaw and que to determine where I was in the Carolinas (within 50 miles) and put it on hold when I hit 500 pages.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Former UNC HFC Dick Crum publicly expressed his strong dislike for NC BBQ… which many attribute to his overall unpopularity to this day.

    • Eddie.R Reply
      3 months ago

      An observation re: pictures of politicians in BBQ places…. I defy you to find a picture of a current-era Democrat politician in a traditional BBQ place. Why might that be ??

      • BobLee Reply
        3 months ago

        Interesting? I suppose it could be that Southern BBQ is associated with rank&file “southerners”… AKA “GOBs”…and that is not exactly a target demographic for “current-era Democ politicians”. Democ pols in the 50s-60s were all over local BBQ places… I’m sure Baby Dumplin’ Perdue has eaten many a plate o’cue in her day.

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