UNC TV’s NC Now visited Lexington, NC last year after the discovery of a barbecue pit at the renovated Town Hall building.
For most North Carolinians the words “barbecue” and “Lexington” go hand-in-hand. While many of us have had the chance to enjoy a plate of barbecue in Lexington, we may not know much about the history of it. Producer Katherine Johnson explains why a recent unique discovery is creating renewed interest in the history of Lexington’s barbecue, and how that history lives on today.
Many cities claim to be barbecue capitals (Ayden, Lockhart, Austin, Murphysboro, Owensboro, etc) but how many can claim to have barbecue pits attached to its City Hall. For Lexington that’s exactly the case, as barbecue pits were uncovered earlier this year during renovations to City Hall. Sarah Delia of WFAE in Charlotte weaves barbecue, government, and history all into a fantastic report for the Gravy podcast.
The pits belonged to Beck’s Barbecue, an important branch in the Lexington barbecue tree. Alton Beck originally bought the pits from Sid Weaver, a founding father of Lexington-style barbecue and believed to be the first man to make a living off barbecue in the city. Beck was also friends and neighbors with Warner Stamey, who introduced hush puppies to barbecue. Warner’s son Charles (whose son Chip now runs Stamey’s in Greensboro) recalls going to Beck’s as a kid in an interview in the podcast.
The city of Lexington is moving forward with preserving the pits and incorporating them into the design of their new office space with the help of an architecture firm from Charlotte, Shook Kelley. Which I am happy to see, because NC has a trend of moving away from its history (see: the number of gas burning barbecue restaurants, even in Lexington). As John Shelton Reed (co-author of Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue and co-founder of True Cue) notes in the podcast, “I’m not actually sure we [North Carolinians] are all that interested in the history of it…we are [mostly] interested in the food.” Thankfully, in this case North Carolina is taking an important step in not only preserving but also showcasing its barbecue heritage. Hopefully its the start of a trend in the right direction.
– Now this is cool: workers uncover three barbecue pits behind a wall in the Lexington, NC City Hall building; they are believed to be from Beck’s Barbecue, the first barbecue restaurant in Lexington (h/t @mossr)
– The state of Alabama’s Year of Alabama BBQ campaign now has a website (h/t TMBBQ)
– They’ve also got a smart phone app and book on Alabama BBQ
– Barbecue season has started in South Carolina’s midlands; and they have info on some upcoming classes and events in the region
– Dinosaur Bar-B-Que will open its 9th national location in Chicago this spring
10. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
April will see the arrival of the ninth national location for this well-respected New York-based barbecue chain. Founder/pit master John Stage says Chicago was a natural choice as the existing restaurants have hosted the city’s blues musicians for the past few decades. While the management isn’t ready to divulge full menu details, we’re reassured there will be some new items specific to the Chicago location. We just hope they keep that tender pulled pork sandwich in the lineup. 923 W. Weed St., dinosaurbarbque.com/bbq-chicago
– Here’s a short barbecue guide to SXSW barbecue
– Check out Burger Mary’s guide from last year which
should still be very applicable is constantly updated and kept current
– Speaking of SXSW, GE brought a 12 foot “interactive smoker” to the interactive portion of the festival
– In Barbecue Bros news, Speedy may have had it with trying brisket in our fair state:
– The Garden & Gun Ultimate BBQ Bracket 2015 kicked off this morning; check their website for more information