Charlotte Barbecue News from the Second Quarter of 2022

Monk: The biggest barbecue news in Charlotte from April to June was surely the inaugural edition of the Carolina BBQ Festival held in late May. You can revisit my recap of the memorable day here:

The festival sold out of all tickets for this year’s edition and Lewis Donald has some big plans for next year. More news on that front should be coming in the next few days or weeks according to a recent Instagram post. Follow them on Instagram to find out as soon as its posted.

The rest of the Charlotte barbecue news from the past 3 months:

April

4/4 In news you don’t like to see, Noble Smoke and a neighboring business The Good Life got involved in a parking dispute

4/5 The owners of Seoul Food Meat Co open a fast casual wing-focused restaurant in South Park

4/25 Axios Charlotte names The Smoke Pit as one of the recommended places to eat when in Concord just north of Charlotte

May

5/10 The inaugural Carolina BBQ Festival officially sells out weeks ahead of its debut

5/24 The Carolina BBQ Festival in photos

5/25 Sweet Lew’s BBQ makes this list from Thrillist on the “57 American barbecue joints to visit right now”

June

6/1 We collaborate with our friends at The Smoke Sheet to recap the Carolina BBQ Festival

6/3 The fan favorite G’s Burger is taken off the Jon G’s Barbecue menu for a “short hiatus”

6/5 Midwood Smokehouse and Jon G’s Barbecue are two of the 13 barbecue restaurants included in Cheerwine’s Carolina ‘Cue Tour

6/5 Not to be outdone, Gaston County launches a barbecue trail of their own. The Gaston County Cue Trail has 7 barbecue restaurants on the list, the oldest of which even opened back in 1946

6/25 Sweet Lew’s BBQ collaborates with Chef Corey Siegel on a sandwich pop-up

6/26 Jon G’s Barbecue headed to Charleston for a pop-up with Palmira BBQ at Hobcaw Brewing

6/30 The Charlotte Observer posts their latest list of Charlotte-area barbecue joints; some good, some not so good on the list but that’s a reflection of Charlotte barbecue more than anything else.

Linkdown: 11/3/21

Native News

Pigstock BBQ Competition and Bluegrass Festival is this upcoming weekend at Shooting Star Horse Farm in Greensboro

Butts-N-Such opened last weekend in the former A&G Barbecue & Chicken in Carolina Beach

Jon G’s featured in QC Exclusive

Holiday pre-orders are live

Non-Native News

Mustard-sauce barbecue and hash and rice are two iconic Midlands SC dishes

The Fox brothers of Fox Bros Bar-B-Q in Atlanta are originally from the Houston area

Gift guides are coming

Charlotte Barbecue News from the Third Quarter of 2021

Monk: If there was an overarching theme for Charlotte barbecue the past three months, it would be expansion. In the second quarter roundup, I had hoped for new concepts and expansion. While we didn’t necessarily get new concepts (yet), we did get quite a bit in the way of expansion. Mac’s Speed Shop, Midwood Smokehouse, and Noble Smoke all announced new locations, (although only one of which is in Charlotte), and rumor has it another Charlotte barbecue joint may be expanding as well.

Not to mention, Phar Mill Brewing in Harrisburg expanded in a slightly different way. Pharr Mill BBQ is utilizing a Jon G’s barbecue pit and they typically serve some combination of brisket, ribs, and pork Thursdays through Saturdays.

July

7/3 Pharr Mill BBQ starts smoking on their Jon G’s barbecue pit at Phar Mill Brewery in Harrisburg

7/10 Noble Smoke celebrates 2 years in business

7/22 FS Food Group announces a Midwood Smokehouse location for Raleigh later his year

7/29 Smoke Show BBQ pivots to Tex-Mex barbecue

7/31 Charlotte-raised Bryan Furman returns to Charlotte and brings his Bryan Furman BBQ pop-up to Sweet Lew’s BBQ

August

8/9 In a nice nod to its employees, all Mac’s Speed Shop locations closed for the day to fight employee burnout

“Our people have been going way above and beyond to make our carry-out, eat-in and delivery business grow by leaps and bounds”… “I’ve never seen a team so dedicated to bringing fun and good food back into the lives of people pent-up by the pandemic.”

Mac’s President Shang Skipper

8/10 Sweet Lew’s Barbeque introduces the “Carolinas Frito Pie”: Carolina bbq hash, warm pimento cheese and jalapeños

8/14 Mac’s Speed Shop is expanding to Fort Mill

8/26 Secondhand Smoke takes over the Pete’s BBQ legacy in Fort Mill

8/27 Jon G’s gets the Axios Charlotte bump

8/30 The 91st Mallard Creek Barbecue is postponed yet another year

September

9/8 Indian Trail’s 100 Main Beef and Barbecue gets featured in Spectrum News for being both a barbecue restaurant and a country store

9/10 Barvecue, the wood-smoked plan-based barbecue company out of Cornelius, is rolling out to 12 colleges and universities and just signed a deal with Sprouts Farmers Market

9/9 Jon G’s Barbecue make this list of “Best New Barbecue Joints in the South” from Southern Living

9/16 Noble Smoke announced its second location will be a stall at the Optimist Hall food hall

9/16 More coverage on the stall from Axios Charlotte

9/24 K&N BBQ competes against Dan Good Que in Food Truck Rumble CLT

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!