Bar-B-Q King Celebrates 50 Years This September

Monk: In an era where North Carolina barbecue fans are more worried about classic barbecue joints closing, it’s quite heartening to see when one is instead celebrating a landmark in it’s longevity. On September 1, Lincolnton’s Bar-B-Q King (not to be confused with the BBQ King drive-thru in Charlotte) celebrates their 50th anniversary. Fifty!

In September 1971, Steve and Becky Abernethy opened a barbecue restaurant to fill a need in the local Lincolnton food landscape, serving Lexington-style barbecue and fresh hand-pattied burgers. In the early 2000s, they brought on long-time employee Keith Smith on as partner. The operation has continued to be a family deal as Steve and Becky’s daughter Stephanie as well as Keith’s sons Jordan and Jared all work there today. Stephanie and Jordan are even engaged to be married next year. It’s all quite lovely.

In celebration of their 50th anniversary on September 1st they’re throwing back the price of their regular bbq sandwich to $1.99. Any customers who visit them on September 1st will also receive a free 50th anniversary cup and sticker.

They’ll also have sweet new 50th anniversary shirts for purchase as well. I’m digging them and hope to be able to snag one myself.

I’ve visited Bar-B-Q King a couple of times over the past few years and am a huge fan. They are of course a family-owned business that serves the Lincolnton community and they’ve got this unique “hollerin’ orders” system where once orders are placed at the register they are literally yelled to the kitchen staff in the back. It’s quite the sight to behold, and they celebrate it on their cups and t-shirts – “50 years of hollerin’ orders.”

I also profiled Jordan Smith early last year if you want to get his perspective on the family business.

In a period where classic NC barbecue joints are more often than not closing, let’s take the opportunity to celebrate Bar-B-Q King. Congrats on 50 years, and here’s to another 50!

Bar-B-Q King is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 9pm. They celebrate their 50th anniversary on September 1st.

Michael Wagner’s Return to Texas is a Big Loss for Charlotte Barbecue

Monk: Last month, Michael Wagner left Midwood Smokehouse and its parent company FS Food Group to return back to Texas. I was fortunate enough to meet Michael within a few weeks of him moving to Charlotte in 2016 to help open the short-lived Midwood Smokeshack and I also interviewed him and Matthew Barry in 2019 for our Pitmaster Profile series as the two main pitmasters for Midwood Smokehouse. Michael has always struck me as a very thoughtful and passionate person about barbecue, and his departure is a big loss for the Charlotte barbecue community. To bookend his time in NC, I wanted to check back in ahead of his big move.

Congrats on the new job! Where are you headed and what’s the new position?

Thanks! I’m going to Dallas, Texas to cook for Terry Black’s BBQ. I’ll be one of the crew of pitmasters at the restaurant.

What’s the first (non-barbecue) thing you’re going to do when you step foot back in Texas?

This is a big transition, and I have some time before I start work, so I’m going camping. Two weeks in the woods with my hammock and my stove.

That sounds very serene; I’m jealous. What are you most looking forward to when it comes to working again at a barbecue joint in Texas?

The pits themselves and the energy at the restaurants.

Any barbecue joints you plan to visit as soon as you get settled in Dallas?

Vaquero’s, Dayne’s, Hurtado’s

Michael and Monk in July 2016

It was right at 5 years with FS Food Group. What are your memories from Midwood Smokeshack where I first met you back in 2016?

Man. Time flies. When I think of The Shack, I remember not knowing how to really cook anything besides BBQ. That was the beginning of a 5 year crash course. I think of Samantha, (she manages for Paco’s Tacos & Tequila now) and learning how to manage all that time.

What are your thoughts on the state of barbecue in Charlotte as you depart?

I’m happy to see a community of committed pitmasters forming. There’s been great food here all along. BBQ has a soul, and it needs a community to foster it.

(L-R): Monk, Lewis Donald of Sweet Lew’s BBQ, Stuart Henderson of Noble Smoke, and Michael Wagner)

Is there anything in particular you will take back to Texas from your time in NC?

Man, so much. I love all the trees, still have never gotten over them. I got pretty serious into disc golfing while here as a way to get out into all the parks. Mostly, I’m leaving here knowing that I capable of much more than smoking meat.

Thanks to Michael for taking his time in answering my questions, particularly in the middle of his big move. I hope to make it to Dallas and Terry Black’s soon to visit!

Charlotte Barbecue News from the Second Quarter of 2021

Monk: In our first quarter wrap-up, I had optimism as things continued to move in a positive direction with vaccinations and the resulting re-opening of restaurants. That mostly continued, and while Charlotte lost a lot of its classic non-barbecue restaurants (Price’s Chicken Coop, Mr. K’s, Oakhurst Grill, Zack’s Hamburgers, etc), I only tracked one barbecue restaurant that closed during that time: the Tyvola Road location of the Sonny’s BBQ chain.

Charlotte barbecue even got some national attention, both of the good (Texas Monthly BBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn visiting and loving Jon G’s) as well as notorious variety (Charlotte as the #3 best city for barbecue according to chefspencil.com).

While we may never know about the barbecue joints that weren’t started during the past year, hopefully a corner has been turned (and the Delta variant of COVID doesn’t wreak havoc here like it has in other countries; get vaccinated people!) and the Charlotte barbecue scene can experience new concepts as well as expansion and growth of its existing ones.

April

4/9 Smoke Show BBQ is a new Texas-style barbecue pop up in the Charlotte area from transplanted Texan chef Brandon Belfer who has worked at fine dining spots The Stanley, Crunkleton, The Asbury, Kindred, and Hello, Sailor

4/12 Charlotte-based Mac’s Speed Shop finds itself coming out of the pandemic in a strong position for growth

4/13 Roddey’s BBQ has changed their lunch hours in Rock Hill to Fridays only

4/19 Jon G’s Barbecue gets in the pit fabrication game

4/26 K&N BBQ makes Axios Charlotte’s list of best food trucks; and they recommend you try the pork and brisket

4/26 Adam Richman (of Man vs Food fame) visits Midwood Smokehouse

4/30 In what was (somewhat embarrassingly) one of the oldest barbecue restaurant’s in Charlotte, the Tyvola Rd. outpost of the Sonny’s BBQ chain closed

May

5/7 Daniel Vaughn ends his NC barbecue trip at Jon G’s Barbecue, where I was fortunate enough to meet both him and Kathleen Purvis and also share a meal with him

5/12 Charlotte is obviously the number 3 Top City for BBQ in the US. No objection here.

5/19 Jon G’s Barbecue gets the highest of praise from the BBQ Snob himself, Daniel Vaughn; Noble Smoke also gets a mention for their brisket

5/25 Phar Mill BBQ introduces itself to the world and will be using a Jon G’s offset smoker

June

6/3 Sweet Lew’s Barbeque announces its new food truck

6/3 Noble Smoke announces details on its 2 year anniversary

6/8 Mac’s Hospitality Group, parent company of Mac’s Speed Shop, adds Rare Roots alum Jay Spungin as Director of Operations

6/19 Congrats to Jon G’s Barbecue on one year open

6/26 Charlotte-based EDIA Maps, makers of The Great NC BBQ Map, ends operations

6/29 And the name of the Sweet Lew’s Barbeque food truck is…Sweet Lucille

Happy 9th Blog Anniversary to Barbecue Bros!

(L-R) Monk, Speedy, Rudy, and friend of the blog Boomsauce in Ohio, October 2020

Monk: Nine years ago today, it all started with a discussion between Speedy and Monk about Charlotte’s best barbecue on our way to what turned out to be a disappointing visit to Bobbee-O’s, then the #1 joint in the city (at least according to Yelp). That then led to this tweet:

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And then Rudy, who at the time lived in Austin, offered to be our beef correspondent:

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And then it didn’t take too long to come up with the name:

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All this happened in the span of less than an hour, and our first review was up later that afternoon. Shortly thereafter we picked our “noms de blog”: Monk, Speedy, and Rudy. Nine years and 294 reviews later here we are.

(L-R) Speedy, Monk, and Rudy at Lexington Barbecue in Lexington, NC in July 2014

Thanks to all of our readers for following our barbecue journey. We’re not stopping anytime soon, and we hope to keep bringing you even more barbecue content.

(L-R) Monk, Rudy, and Speedy at The Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX in May 2012

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