Recently, friend of the blog John Tanner (of John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog) ate his way across the piedmont of North Carolina while making stops on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail in honor of the late Jim Early. Early was the founder of the North Carolina Barbecue Society and driving force behind the NC Historic Barbecue Trail.
Notably, he makes a stop at our friends at Bar-B-Q King in Lincolnton where he delights in the “hollerin’ orders” system and has a great meal. Follow John’s journey below.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s BBQ Bowl Week
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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 coupleof 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.
Last week, an article that former Charlotte Observer food writer Kathleen Purvis did for Charlotte Magazine appeared online. It digs into Chef Jim Noble and his complicated stature in Charlotte’s restaurant landscape. On one hand, he is a well-respected and successful chef and restaurateur whose philanthropic pursuits include his King’s Kitchen restaurant that employs people who are under normal circumstances considered unemployable due to poverty, homelessness, or addiction. He is also a reverend who leads bible study at that same restaurant. On the other hand, he has a religiously conservative view on gay rights and was one of only two restaurateurs who officially supported House Bill 2 (or HB2) passed by the NC Legislature in 2015 that required transgender people to use the bathroom that conformed with the gender on their birth certificates, essentially wiping out a nondiscrimination ordinance enacted shortly before by the Charlotte City Council.
From there, Purvis zooms out to explore some of the history of discrimination in the south in both the past and the present. I won’t recap it here, but it’s definitely worth a read.
It should be noted that while Noble declined to be interviewed for Purvis’s story there is no record of Noble’s restaurants discriminating against anyone in the LGBTQ+ community. But that doesn’t mean that potential patrons of his restaurants (which, in addition to Noble Smoke includes two Rooster’s Kitchen locations and Bossy Beulah’s) won’t take his views into account in deciding whether or not to spend money there, regardless of whether they are part of the LGBTQ+ community or not.
I haven’t made a decision either way, but it certainly has been and will continue to be on my mind going forward.
Check out this beautifully restored sign at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge