City Barbeque, an Ohio-based chain, has announced plans to open its first restaurant in North Carolina. According to this account, the new restaurant will be in “one of the hearts of barbecue country.” If you guessed that the heart of barbecue country means Cary, then I suspect you’ve been drinking too much Kool-Aid from a Dickey’s Big Yellow Cup.
Based on browsing City Barbeque’s website, it looks like the restaurant is yet another “International House of Barbecue”, as my barbecue brother-in-arms John Shelton Reed likes to say. City Barbeque serves pork shoulder, brisket, ribs, etc., with no regional, let alone local, emphasis. (“OUR PORK SHOULDER IS REMINISCENT OF THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES, THE BRISKET AND SAUSAGE TAKE YOU TO TEXAS, AND THE RIBS EXUDE A BLEND OF THE MEMPHIS AND KANSAS CITY STYLES.”) In other words, they offer a little something for everyone; everyone except for those of us who believe that at its best barbecue is locally distinct. Also, some of us are awfully wary of ribs that “exude” anything!
In fairness, Ohio has no barbecue tradition so the IHOB model makes some sense there. Yet in North Carolina, where the barbecue tradition is strong, it’d be awfully nice if we politely declined to visit IHOBs and instead focused our limited energies (and caloric capacity) on True ‘Cue.