Linkdown: 5/10/23 – The Barbecue Hall of Fame Semi-Finalists Edition


Congrats to Steve Grady of Grady’s BBQ (as well as the rest of the top 10) for making the semi-finalist list for this year’s Barbecue Hall of Fame class! The inductees will be announced later this month on May 24th.

Native News

WRAL is a fan of Midwood Smokehouse‘s latest location in Raleigh

Midwood Smokehouse has some new barbecue taco specials Thursdays through Sundays in May for National Barbecue Month

Winners from this year’s Jiggy with the Piggy Challenge in Kannapolis

Congrats to Longleaf Swine for being named Readers’ Choice Awards winner for Best New Restaurant by Wake Living’s readers

Congrats to Prime Barbecue on 3 years open

Panther City BBQ out of Texas will be joining Christopher Prieto in an upcoming Latin-inspired barbecue class

Check out John Tanner’s updated list of best barbecue in Eastern NC

The Lexington Pit Stop Event Combines NASCAR and Barbecue this Memorial Day weekend; it’s a celebration of Lexington’s stock car racing teams and the pit-cooked Lexington-style barbecue for which the town is famous

Non-Native News

Scotty’s Whole Hog Barbecue is switching to a “once and month” pop-up schedule in Minnesota this year, and the next service will be on May 20

Aaron Franklin’s latest book, Smoke, from him and his photographer/collaborator Jordan McKay is now out

John Tanner’s out of state travels takes him to B. Cooper Barbecue in Austin, Pig Beach in West Palm Beach, and Pig and Pint in Mississippi

Report from the field on Kolacny BBQ House by Bryan from Tales from the Pits

Linkdown: 5/3/23 – The Speedy’s Barbecue is Back Edition


Monk: In “news you absolutely love to see,” Speedy’s Barbecue has reopened in Lexington. Undaunted by the NC DOT’s widening of Highway 8 that killed off Smiley’s Barbecue, Speedy’s has moved about a half mile down the road from their longtime location of 60 years into what formerly housed Tricia’s Catering.

In an interview earlier this year owner Roy Dunn stressed that only the location is changing. Speedy’s will have the same menu, same staff, same prices and same motto — “ Quality, Quantity and Quick service.”

Curb service, a staple of classic Lexington barbecue joints, is open with 13 spots available

Merch is available

Speedy’s Barbecue is now open 11am to 8pm Monday through Saturday at 408 Piedmont Dr Lexington, NC 27295

Native News

Congrats to Little Pigs BBQ of Asheville, who celebrated 60 years open last month

Jon G’s Barbecue makes Eater Carolinas’ list of Essential Restaurants in Charlotte

Paste Magazine reviews the Cheerwine-flavored beer from NoDa Brewing

Congrats to Concord-based SnS Grills for being named “The Best Kettle Style Grill” by Food and Wine in a recent rundown of charcoal grills

WRAL’s best barbecue in Raleigh contains one old but mostly newer places

Non-Native News

Congrats to City Limits Q on the announcement of their upcoming brick and mortar in West Columbia

Aaron Franklin’s latest restaurant Uptown Sports Club is more sports bar than barbecue joint, but it does have some chopped brisket and sausage on the menu in various forms

Amy Mills of 17th Street Barbecue was recently honored back in March

Happy belated birthday to “Black Smoke”

Congrats to Wildwoods BBQ on winning last week’s Brisket King NYC

A little history lesson on Big Joe Bessinger, the “pioneer of SC BBQ”

Content ahead of last week’s NFL Draft in Kansas City: Mitchell Schwartz’s favorite barbecue joints in KC

Linkdown: 3/22/23 – The Kings of BBQ Edition


Monk: A brewpub with a True ‘Cue barbecue joint attached is coming to Main Street of Mount Holly in early April. Owner Scott Blackwood is combining craft beer with traditional NC wood-smoked barbecue in what he’s calling Firehawk Brewpub. That means pork, ribs, and chicken smoked over a mix of oak, hickory, and pecan in a reverse-flow offset smoker cooked by “BBQ Don” Trevor Seifts.

“Being in the fire department, it seemed logical that we cook our food on live, wood-fired grills,” Blackwood told CharlotteFive. Couldn’t agree more, and I hope to report back on it before too long.

Native News

John Tanner and company (including John Shelton Reed) devoured their try of barbecue at Old Colony Smokehouse in Eden

Southern Fire Pit has closed due to building expenses. It replaced Arcadia Q, which itself closed in late August 2022. Toni London had been the manager of Arcadia Q before opening this restaurant.

The latest (perhaps final?) chapter of the Cafe 71 Smokehouse saga sees the former owner Newlan Otto Spears Jr. charged with writing bad checks

Non-Native News

Anthony Anderson and Cedric the Entertainer have launched a barbecue company called AC Barbeque and will film a series for A&E called “Kings of BBQ”

John Tanner made it back to Smokecraft Modern BBQ in Arlington and found it worthy of recommendation

Today, Adrian Miller is at the History Colorado Center to take “an informative and entertaining look at people and places that shaped Colorado’s barbecue traditions”

Daniel Vaughn talks with The Texas Standard on the Egyptian-influenced KG BBQ in Austin

Roundup Rodeo BBQ is the newest barbecue restaurant at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios

Dave Grohl on how to properly slice a brisket

Cafe 71 Smokehouse Closed Abruptly Amidst Allegations of Mismanagement

This is where I’d normally set the table for my visit to Cafe 71 Smokehouse, which opened up last fall in the space formerly occupied by Rick’s Smokehouse in the small town of Welcome, NC just north of Lexington. But the course of this post changed when Cafe 71 abruptly closed a few weeks ago just shy of 4 months open.

I recently visited Cafe 71 much the same way I did Rick’s three years ago, leaving Charlotte on a banker’s holiday to make the 1.5 hour drive up to Lexington for lunch. I had planned to hit two Lexington joints that day but with the Monkettes in tow, I decided not to push it.

And what I found in my tray at the time was delicious, smoky pork that filled the void of traditional wood smoking left when Rick’s Smokehouse closed last April. The slaw had a nice balance of tangy with just a hint of sweet, and the hush puppies were fresh. All in all, a good meal. It was certainly in the conversation for a 4.5 hog rating which would have matched that of Rick’s when I originally visited.

I apparently should be glad I was able to get a meal at all, because it has since come to light that Cafe 71 did not keep regular hours and would oftentimes close for the day because there was no more food available. Weird. Normally, this is what a barbecue restaurant craves: smoking tons of meat and serving the freshest, best version of of it until it runs out for the day. Then doing it all over again for the next day. For Cafe 71, it was a matter of restaurant mismanagement. Owner Newlan Spears falsely blamed it on a lack of regular kitchen staff in a recent Lexington Dispatch article but comments on the Dispatch Facebook page paint a story that goes beyond simple mismanagement: apparently no employees or vendors were getting paid. In that article, Spears complained about having 25-30 kitchen staff during his 4 months open but turns out that there is high kitchen turnover when paychecks are bouncing. Waitresses only stayed because they were getting (deservedly) tipped for their great service. Spears also had outstanding debts at Shuler Meats and Orrell’s Food Service. Here’s what was posted in the Facebook comments from a former waitress:

While the situation does not appear to be good for anyone, it does explain an odd confrontation I had as I left the restaurant. After eating (and enjoying) my meal and paying, I let the girls go to my car (parked right out front) while I did my usual routine of snapping photos – sign, smoker, woodpile, wide shot of building, etc – when Spears approached me asking why I was taking photos. I explained that it was for my barbecue blog and while he was mostly appeased in the moment, he did throw in a comment that I was making the waitresses uneasy. And I’m not going to lie, this comment bothered me a little. But now I understand that Spears probably thought I was snooping around on account of his shady business practices.

It’s a shame that Cafe 71 Smokehouse wasn’t able to give it a legit go but there’s still some good news in Lexington. Speedy’s owner Roy Dunn announced that it was relocating instead of closing, keeping the 60 year old restaurant open. Also, I was informed that a new joint called Southern Fire Pit has opened in the former Arcadia Q (which was formerly Speedy Lohr’s of Arcadia) and is smoking over wood. Both will be on my to-visit list next time I make it to Lexington.

And late breaking news that all is not lost for this location and its traditional pit. As I write this it appears based on a Facebook comment that the previous owner Rick Matthew of Rick’s Smokehouse is going to reopen a barbecue restaurant in the same space. The name? Well, apparently it will be called Jimmy’s. I can’t wait.