Charlotte Barbecue News from the First Quarter of 2022

Monk: The Charlotte barbecue scene, along with the entire restaurant industry, remains in flux. Longtime Belmont staple Buddy’s BBQ closed in February after 25 years. A second location of Noble Smoke opened in Optimist Hall. The Carolina Barbecue Festival was announced for May and has a chance to put Charlotte on the map. However, no barbecue boom appears on the horizon for Charlotte anytime soon. Here’s a roundup of news from the past 3 months.

January

1/2 Big Tiny’s BBQ expands its hours in the new year

1/3 By popular demand the pizza collab by Jon G’s Barbecue and Salud continued into January

1/4 Noble Smoke is the only barbecue restaurant on Charlotte Magazine’s annual list of the 50 best restaurants in Charlotte

1/10 RayNathan’s celebrates 3 years open

1/20 Garren of Jon G’s Barbecue profiled on the Ministers of Smoke Instagram page

1/21 A fun story from Charlotte Magazine on how Chapel Hill-born fashion designer Alexander Julian got paid in barbecue for designing the original Charlotte Hornets jerseys

February

2/7 Buddy’s BBQ in Belmont closed after 25 years

2/9 Cornelius-based Barvecue has raised $600 million thus far

2/9 The latest barbecue list from Only In Your State includes Jon G’s Barbecue

2/23 Lewis Donald of Sweet Lew’s BBQ announces the Carolina Barbecue Festival to be held May 22 at Camp North End in Charlotte

2/27 Congrats to Garren and Kelly from Jon G’s, who 2 years ago on this date closed on the former Barbee’s Barbecue location, which they would open in June 2020 just a few months into the pandemic

March

3/12 Actor Eric Wareheim made it all the way from LA to Jon G’s Barbecue for a Barbecue Saturday

3/14 Noble Smoke‘s second location at Optimist Hall opens; it was originally scheduled to open on 3/2

3/22 Noble Smoke is involved in a bit of controversy when a miscommunication between its landlord and a neighboring business kicks off a brouhaha

3/24 Noble Smoke and Jim Noble’s official response. As of this writing I have not seen whether an agreement has been reached.

Linkdown: 3/16/22

Native News

A couple of the pitmasters for the upcoming Carolina Barbecue Festival in Charlotte on May 22nd: Bryan Furman and Matthew Register

Not to be outdone, the Pinehurst Barbecue Festival has been announcing pitmasters for the Prieto Pitmaster Invitational at its festival, including Brandon Shepard of Shepard Barbecue, Melanie Dunia of The Pit, Ron Simmons of Master Blend Family Farms, and Lewis Donald of Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Noble Smoke’s stall has opened at Optimist Hall as of Monday, 3/14

Jon G’s will be smoking meat for a barbecue and wine event on the last day of the Charlotte Wine & Food Festival

Pretty cool: actor Eric Wareheim made it all the way from LA to Peachland for a Barbecue Saturday last weekend

Non-Native News

Blake’s BBQ has its final days in the trailer this week

In Austin for SXSW?

The latest reader-generated list from Southern Living

Linkdown: 3/2/22

North Carolina has lost another classic barbecue joint; Smiley’s Lexington BBQ officially closed this past weekend as a result of the NC DOT widening of Winston Road. Restaurant owner Steve Yountz and his wife, Tena, have no official plans to relocate the restaurant as of now but are not ruling it out either, depending on how much money they get from the state. For now, they are going to take some time to evaluate their options.

The building housing Smiley’s has been a barbecue restaurant for over 70 years and according to Yountz, ““It’s the oldest pit-cooking restaurant in Lexington. We’re still using the original pits.” Before Yountz opened Smiley’s in 2002, it operated as Southern Barbecue from 1963 to 1998 and started as Dan’s in the 1950’s.

This NC DOT project, first announced in 2018 and not set to begin until July 2023, actually has two victims as Speedy’s Barbecue the next block over is also closing due to the road widening.

Native News

Through the Preserve the Pit fellowship, Ron Simmons of Master Blend Farms in Kenansville was able to add 56 acres to his family farm and add barbecue catering as a side gig

Big Belly Que in Chapel Hill is pivoting to Italian for the time being

Lechon Latin BBQ is a new-ish, Latin-focused barbecue restaurant at Raleigh’s Triangle Town Center

Noble Smoke’s second location at Optimist Hall opens this Sunday

Congrats to Garren and Kelly from Jon G’s, who 2 years ago on Sunday closed on the former Barbee’s Barbecue location, which they would open in June 2020 just a few months into the pandemic

Non-Native News

Texas barbecue James Beard semifinalists

Robert Sietsema’s latest barbecue guide for Eater NY

Juicy Lucia and Di Fara Pizzeria will be located in the former Corner House BBQ on Staten Island

Virgie’s is back

Lewis Barbecue is set to open their Greenville location this summer

Snow’s Barbecue by Robert Jacob Lerma for Huckberry

According to Dave Grohl, salt and pepper is all the rub you need for a great brisket

Aaron Franklin’s Hot Luck Festival is back and has added NC band Superchunk to its music lineup

Here’s a list of the chefs that will be at Hot Luck

Should we call this the Memphis Airport Barbecue Challenge?

Linkdown: 9/22/21

Featured

Congrats to the Red Bridges Barbecue family! Lyttle Bridges Cabaniss (aka “Mama B”), who was the wife of “Red” that took over the business after he passed in 1966 and served as the matriarch of the family until she passed in 2008, was posthumously inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame at this past weekend’s American Royal in Kansas City, MO.

Lyttle Bridges is considered to be the first woman barbecue entrepreneur in North Carolina and while her husband Red is the namesake of the restaurant, she was the guiding force behind it, reportedly working from 8am to 9pm nearly every day before handing over the restaurant to her daughter Debbie Bridges-Webb and then her grandkids Natalie Ramsey and Chase Webb at the age of 80. Those three all accepted the award on her behalf this past weekend, which surely must have been a blast.

Congratulations to Lyttle Bridges Cabaniss and the rest of the 2021 Barbecue Hall of Fame inductees!

More on Bridges at the following links:

Native News

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

More coverage on the stall from Axios Charlotte

The Redneck BBQ Lab announces Mercedes Harris as its new CEO of its food truck and catering arm

Grady’s and Wilber’s gets a mention in this article on Goldsboro from WRAL

Picnic has one of the best burgers in the Triangle according to Eater Carolinas

Non-Native News

After its North Charleston sister restaurant closed after 67 years, the Orangeburg Duke’s BBQ affirms that it is “not going nowhere”

The Tales from the Pits crew unveils #20-11 in their Texas barbecue rankings

NC whole hog in Maine? John Tanner investigates for The Smoke Sheet