Linkdown: 9/21/20

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Sweet Lew’s Barbeque has started doing whole hog on Sundays as of this past Sunday, making it the only whole hog available in Charlotte smoked the old way.

The recently shuttered Bill Spoon’s cooked the whole hog but switched to gas smokers some years back. Here’s hoping whole hog Sundays catches on with Charlotte customers and Lewis Donald can continue to smoke whole hogs weekly (and maybe more frequently if its popular enough).

The price is $16/lb or $13 for a plate with two sides. This puts it just above Midwood Smokehouse ($13) and Jon G’s ($14) but below Noble Smoke ($18). Not bad, considering those are smoked pork shoulders compared with whole hog.

It certainly looks like Sweet Lew’s has been running through some wood, so hopefully I can pick up some whole hog next week for football.

Native News

The property that Bill Spoon’s sits on was sold for just over $1M last Friday, two days after it closed for good after 57 years (scroll down)

The Charlotte Observer’s Theoden James has the full story, and notes that the closing wasn’t because of the pandemic. Steve Spoon, Jr.: “There is no other source of income for mom-and-pop places. There’s no financial backing, there’s no partners, there’s no corporate money to be funded in when you are short. The customers are their only source of revenue, so if they don’t come, (they) have no safety net. You have to support ’em.”

Bargarita is not looking too promising

Non-Native News

Barbecue historian Jim Auchmutey was a consultant on Netflix’s “American Barbecue Showdown,” which filmed outside of Atlanta last year but was just released on Netflix

Rasheed Philips of Philips Barbeque Co appeared on “American Barbecue Showdown” and now has his own podcast

Robert Moss has updated his website ahead of the re-release of “Barbecue: The History of An American Institution, Revised and Expanded”

Braised in the South won Food Network’s “Food Truck Challenge” and is opening a restaurant in the Charleston area

Pappy’s Smokehouse is planning to open its second location in October

In LA and looking for barbecue? Kevin’s BBQ Joints has you covered

Snake River Farms is having a sale

Linkdown: 9/16/20

Featured

Monk: When I moved to Charlotte in 2005, I was surprised at the lack of barbecue options in town. Though had I been paying attention then as I do now, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise. Mac’s Speed Shop was a fun option for awhile but eventually fell off a cliff after it jettisoned its original barbecue partner and began to expand too quickly. It wasn’t a few years living in Charlotte until I finally checked out Bill Spoon’s Barbecue on South Boulevard, and while the style of barbecue seemed out of place (eastern NC whole hog in the Piedmont?) it was clear to me that it was Charlotte’s classic barbecue joint.

Unfortunately, as of close of business today after 57 years in business, that will no longer be the case. It was announced on Facebook Monday by current owner Steve Spoon, who in 2006 bought it from his grandfather Bill and began operating the barbecue joint in much the same way he had since he opened it in 1963 (albeit in a different location than their current one on South Boulevard). Screw you 2020, and screw you COVID-19.

Kathleen Purvis summed it up perfectly with this poignant quote that doubles as a warning for us lovers of other classic joints: “If all the hard lessons of 2020’s season of terrible teaches us anything, it’s that: Those places don’t last, can’t last, if we don’t make sure of it.

Charlotte Magazine’s Greg Lacour also pitched in, noting that the restaurant was struggling before COVID and had been operating in takeout only mode for the past few months

Sadly, its taken the restaurant closing for Charlotte to show up again

Native News

Seoul Food Meat Co will open a second location in the Optimist Park neighborhood (not NoDa as noted in their post) as part of an adaptive-reuse project called Lintmen’s

Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ is a small Connecticut chain that will open a Kansas City-style barbecue restaurant in Asheville’s South Slope

Non-Native News

Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston has been getting a big bump from “Chef’s Table: BBQ”

Home Team BBQ’s smoked wings makes the list

The best barbecue options in Virginia, according to Virginia Living

Solinsky’s in the Catskills of New York is serving some “epic brisket”, says Eater NY critic Robert Sietsema

I like this guy’s style

Charlotte Barbecue News from the Second Quarter of 2020

Monk: Despite the generally bad outlook for restaurants, there was mostly positive news for our top ranked Charlotte barbecue restaurants. Noble Smoke and Sweet Lew’s both reopened with reduced capacity and social distancing measures in place and of course there is Jon G’s Barbecue which finally opened its long-awaited doors in Peachland.

Things were not so great for Queen City Q, which when we started the blog in 2012 was our second favorite barbecue restaurant in Charlotte at the time behind Midwood Smokehouse. And things seemed to be going pretty well in the mid-2010’s, with expansion to locations in Ballantyne, Matthews, and Concord. However, those quietly closed in recent years and the original location in Uptown Charlotte was apparently hanging on by a thread before it was forced to close as a result of the state’s pandemic response. It briefly opened in May as part of North Carolina’s phase 2 but then the final nail in the coffin came when it was forced to close again due to the threat of protests.

If I’m honest, Queen City Q had fallen off quite a bit from when it first opened. Our last visits were my solo trip to the Concord store in 2016 in which a poor experience prompted a re-review of the 6th Street location by Speedy and me a few weeks later. We left that visit disheartened and convinced that the drop in quality wasn’t an isolated incident. Neither of us had not been back since, and now they have shuttered their remaining location.

RIP Queen City Q (2012-2020)

April

4/7 Hillbilly’s Barbeque & Steaks in Lowell is moving to a new building on South Main Street

4/14 Jon G’s Barbecue updates their website ahead of their forthcoming brick and mortar in Peachland

4/20 Noble Smoke begins delivery service in Charlotte

4/30 Sweet Lew’s BBQ, which had been closed but serving their smoked meats out of Dish (also owned by Lewis Donald), announces they are reopening their store for to-go orders on May 7

May

5/1 Jon G’s Barbecue announces they are officially permitted for their upcoming restaurant

5/7 Sweet Lew’s BBQ reopens

5/20 A limited edition Sweet Lew’s BBQ shirt became available and supported two local small businesses with each purchase

5/21 Bill Spoon’s BBQ decides to remain curbside only even as restaurants are allowed to open with reduced capacity in phase 2

5/22 Noble Smoke reopens with extended safety precautions

June

6/4 Queen City Q announced that they are closing their uptown location, which was the last remaining location of their Charlotte locations after numbering as many as 4 in recent years.

6/8 Jon G’s Barbecue announces their soft opening dates starting June 19

6/19 Jon G’s Barbecue officially opens

6/27 Sweet Lew’s BBQ smoked enough pork for 175 plates for the Charlotte Community Kitchen

How to Order Takeout from Our Favorite Charlotte Barbecue Restaurants during Stay at Home

Monk: As of Thursday at 8am, Mecklenburg County is enforcing a Stay at Home order effective until at least April 16. Thankfully, residents are still allowed to go to a restaurant “for take-out, delivery or drive-thru.” As hard as restaurants have already been hit, this will be even more of a blow for those that are trying to stay open through these weird times.

Thusly, if we are able, we should do all we can to support our local barbecue restaurants if we want them to still be around after the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s a list of our five favorite Charlotte options based on our Charlotte Big Board.

Please note: As everything is pretty much a fluid situation these days, please call ahead or check on social media to ensure that the restaurant is open and serving.

1. Jon G’s Barbecue
March 28th is sold out but stay tuned to their Facebook page for future events
Link to Facebook page

2. Noble Smoke
Monday to Sunday, 10:30am to 8pm
Link to order online

3. Sweet Lew’s Barbecue (available curbside at Dish until Sweet Lew’s reopens on 5/7)
Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 8pm
Call ahead to order: (704) 344-0343 (delivery also available)⁠⠀

4. Midwood Smokehouse (Central Ave, Park Road, and Ballantyne locations only)
Monday to Sunday, 11:00am to 8:00pm
Link to order online

5. Bill Spoon’s Barbecue
Monday to Wednesday, 10:30am to 3pm; Thursday to Saturday, 10:30am to 8pm
Call ahead to order: (704) 525-8865