Natalie Ramsey and Chase Webb are the third generation of the Bridges family to work at the venerated Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby. It’s definitely a Barbecue Bros fave and I’m glad that Kevin’s BBQ Joints interviewed them for the podcast since I don’t think they get a lot of recognition outside of the Piedmont of North Carolina.
In this episode I chat with Natalie Ramsey and Chase Webb from Red Bridges BBQ – Shelby, North Carolina. We discuss the long history of the restaurant which opened in 1946 in Cleveland County (called Dedmond’s Barbecue). In 1953, Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge was moved to their current location on Highway 74 in Shelby. One of the greatest things about Red Bridges BBQ is that while they have added items as demand grew for specific dishes (i.e. BBQ Nachos), they have stayed true to the old ways of cooking over wood, low and slow, and keeping the recipes for items such as slow the exact same as day one. You can tell the great passion Natalie and Chase have for their business and more importantly family. I guarantee they will treat you like family when you visit. Note they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
In the spirit of the pioneers and innovators of our favorite style of barbecue, the Barbecue Bros are pleased to make available our first t-shirt featuring those men in the classic Helvetica list style. We hope that Lexington-style barbecue fans will purchase and wear this acknowledgement of history proudly. The shirts are $24.99 and ship for free if you have an Amazon Prime account.
Lightweight, Classic fit, Double-needle sleeve and bottom hem
Available in Men’s, Women, and Child sizes S-3XL
Solid colors: 100% Cotton; Heather Grey: 90% Cotton, 10% Polyester; All Other Heathers: 50% Cotton, 50% Polyester
In 1919, Sid Weaver set up a tent across the street from the Lexington courthouse and began selling what would later become “Lexington-style” barbecue. He was the first man to sell this style of barbecue.
Weaver later teamed up with Jess Swicegood and those two men perfected Lexington-style barbecue and helped spread the technique across the Piedmont of North Carolina. Lexington-style means pork shoulders are smoked as opposed to whole hogs because shoulders are fattier and more forgiving than the leaner hams and loins found in a whole hog and yield more barbecue. They took the vinegar-pepper sauce of the eastern part of the state and added ketchup to provide sweetness to balance it out while maintaining the tang of the vinegar.
In 1927, Warner Stamey began working under Weaver and Swicegood while in high school, and for me this is where things began to pick up. After a few years under the tutelage of Weaver and Swicegood, Stamey moved 100 miles southwest to Shelby, NC. There, he taught the Lexington-style technique to his brother-in-law Alston Bridges as well as Red Bridges (oddly enough, not related). They, of course, opened their own respective restaurants in 1956 and 1946 respectively, both of which still exist today.
Stamey moved back to Lexington in 1938 and bought Swicegood’s restaurant for $300. It was there that he taught the legendary barbecue man Wayne Monk, who went on to open Lexington Barbecue (aka “The Honeymonk”) in 1962, which just so happens to be the Barbecue Bros’ collective favorite barbecue restaurant ever. Stamey would of course go on to open Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro, where his grandson Chip Stamey still owns and operates to this day. Warner Stamey is also widely credited with bringing hush puppies to barbecue restaurants.
Monk: Some more shots from around the grounds at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge. See my review from this visit here.
I started my stroll at the iconic green and yellow sign closest to Hwy 74, which is just simply a great retro sign. Over 70 years!
Red Bridges is known for their large wood pile, though on this particular Saturday the pile was a little smaller than normal. Must have been a busy night and morning in preparation for the Saturday lunch.
I mean, what other mailbox would be more appropriate for a barbecue joint? No idea if this is the actual mailbox in use.
I don’t know the story behind this limousine or if the patrons were in the restaurant at the time but it cracked me up.
Another notable car on the Red Bridges premises, albeit for different reasons. I wish I had gotten the full car in this shot.
A few exterior shots of the restaurant from different vantage points during the lunch hour on a busy Saturday. In all my times visiting, I hadn’t stepped back to take a shot of the entire building.
I do love the font of the “Bridge’s” sign in the this shot. The same font is used over the door.