Cooper’s 75th

Come on out this Saturday to celebrate venerable Raleigh BBQ joint Cooper’s 75th birthday.  As detailed in the News & Observer, the special event will raise money for Wake County’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. No better way to be kind to animals than slaughtering and eating ‘em, right?

This is Progress?

Big news from downtown Raleigh where the venerable Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue will soon disappear from the building it has occupied since 1938.  Cooper’s is not going out of business but will soon move to make way for new development.

Losing a historic spot like Cooper’s is the downside of the continued real estate boom that has brought hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment to downtown Raleigh in recent years.  The modest building that long-housed Cooper’s, even as the shadows of nearby buildings grew longer and longer, seemed invincible for awhile–every time a development proposal bubbled to the surface, it popped and Cooper’s was spared.  But this time looks like it will be different. The Holts, who own Coopers, were forced to choose between moving or trying to survive what would have been an estimated 15 months in dormancy while development went on around them.  So they are moving.

Thanks to reader Dave “Pork Skins” Schiller for sending me the article from the Raleigh Public Record that describes the situation Cooper’s faces.  As Dave said to me, it’s hard to imagine Cooper’s anywhere but 109 East Davie Street.  Where will they land next?  Probably not too far from their current location, according to the Triangle Business Journal.  Good luck to the Holts as they try to move forward while preserving the restaurant’s distinct history.

T-Shirts from The Pit

According to the News & Observer, Raleigh barbecue restaurant The Pit has joined the ranks of the fashionistas with a new t-shirt featured at Sportiqe Boutiqe.  I don’t yet see the shirt online but assume it will arrive soon, fashionably late.

The cynical side of me wants to say that this new merchandising means you can now order an overpriced ($35) t-shirt to wear while eating overpriced ($11.99) barbecue.  But I’m trying to use a more positive tone on this website in 2012, so I’ll refrain.

Hogs and Pigs, Oh My

Two Triangle-area barbecue events take place this weekend:

Hillsborough Hog Day, the classic barbecue festival, cook-off and cultural event, moves up a month from past years in order to beat the heat.  The 29th annual event is held in River Park behind the courthouse and features live music, other entertainment, arts and crafts, and lots of chopped pork.  I’ll be dropping by bright and early on Saturday morning to help judge the pork shoulder cooking competition, so I’m looking forward to partaking in some breakfast barbecue.  I hope you’ll come out later on in the day to take in the festitivies, as it’s always a well run event and in the past the hot June weather has been my only complaint!  While you are in Hillsborough, be sure to check out the new Hillsborough BBQ Company.

A few dozen miles east of Hillsborough in Raleigh this weekend is the sixth annual Carolina Pig Jig, which will be held at the state fairgrounds as part of the Got to Be NC Festival (meaning, there will surely be an appearance by the giant shopping cart–you’ll see what I mean if you don’t know already).  The Pig Jig is a cooking competition organized by Raleigh Masonic Lodge #500 as a benefit for area children’s homes.

Eat Pig, Help the Masonic Home for Children

The Freemasons are at it again.  But this time you can put the conspiracy theories out of your mind, as there are no The Da Vinci Code-like plot twists involved in their upcoming BBQ fundraiser. 

Hiram No.40 Masonic Lodge will be holding its annual BBQ fundraiser this Friday, October 8th from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. to benefit the NC Masonic Home for Children.  Barbecue will be prepared by the award winning competition cookers of the Lodge and will be sold to the public for $7 a plate.  These boys take their BBQ seriously, as they even organize an annual cooking competition called the Carolina Pig Jig.  So, get yourself a plate of ‘cue for a cause.

The fundraiser takes place at the Lodge at 1520 Caswell Street in Raleigh.  Learn more about the event here.

A Shot Across the Bow: Dickey’s Moving Onto Sacred Land

The news out of Raleigh is not good, ladies and gentlemen.  Not since the days of British colonial rule has our state witnessed such a threat to our way of life.  According to the New Raleigh blog, mediocre Texas-based barbecue chain (my words, not their’s) Dickey’s Barbecue Pit will be opening up a store in the Progress Energy Building this fall. 

The Progress Energy Building just so happens to be directly across the street from a certain 70-plus year old local BBQ institution–Clyde Cooper’s.  Shouldn’t the North Carolina Utilities Commission, charged with overseeing companies like Progress Energy, regulate this affront on our state’s values?!  For all we know, Progress Energy is using power customers’ fees to subsidize Dickey’s rent in some sort of Halliburtonesque scheme.* 

Now, in my humble opinion, Clyde Cooper’s ranks squarely in the middle of the pack of NC barbecue joints, but I’m still willing to go to bat for them against the evil forces of mass produced corporate Texas ‘cue.  Let’s make a stand, draw a line in the sand/Davie Street asphalt, and send as many people to eat at Cooper’s during Dickey’s opening weeks as possible. And if you have a “Mess with Texas” t-shirt then this is as good a time as any to wear it.

*Note to Progress Energy’s legal staff: this allegation has no basis in the truth and is presumably patently false. However, the BBQ Jew Legal Department is fully prepared to defend my freedom of speech and dares you to find any court in NC that would take a stand against the state’s barbecue tradition in favor of Texas-sympathizers like yourselves.

BBQ Events This Weekend

If you’re in the Triangle area this weekend you could do worse than checking out one of these two BBQ-themed events.  First, in Cary (yes, that Cary) on Friday and Saturday is the traveling road show called the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival.  Or, if you are looking for something with a little more of a downhome sophisticate flair, swing by The Flying Saucer in Raleigh on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. for a pairing of Hogwash beer with barbecue.  Twenty bucks gets you five 5-oz pours of Fullsteam Brewery beers and a heaping plate o’ ‘cue.  (A tip of the snout to BBQ Dave for pointing this event out.)

Parties at the Pits

An easy to read post for Friday morning: four belated pictures from Spring barbecue celebrations, the first two from the Cuegrass event at The Pit in Raleigh and the second set at customer appreciation day at the Backyard BBQ Pit #1 in Durham.

Notes from the Underground (aka Unhinged Ramblings from a Real New Yorker)

I recently received an email from a reader, Aaron Weiss of… ahem, cough, cough… New York.  As you might have guessed from his name, Aaron is a fellow BBQ Jew.  He visited North Carolina recently and gave me a full run down on the rather substantial BBQ-related portion of his itinerary.  Check out Aaron’s reviews of The Pit and Allen & Son’s below.  Note that I edited his report slightly just to remove some non-BBQ commentary that diluted from the pig-centric focus of this website.  Once you’re done reading Aaron’s interesting report, check out his other writings here.

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As I prepare to head back to NY in the morning after being here in the Durham area this week, I wanted to share my experiences. In a perfect world, I would have eaten at a dozen bbq places and be able to write a comparative tome.  [Editor's note: In a perfect world pig grease would heal the sick and give sight to the blind.  And maybe it does.]  But unfortunately I can’t eat like that anymore.

Last year we’d been here on our first trip to the area and had eaten at the Barbecue Joint in Chapel Hill and also Allen & Son. At that time we really liked the Barbecue Joint. I know you gave it a lackluster review, and I certainly would not pretend to disagree with your wisdom [Editor: They don't have sarcasm in New York, right?]. I do think their pork was quite good on our particular visit (in fact, we went there twice on that trip). When we hit Allen & Son that time, I think we were a little porked out. I remember liking it, but didn’t remember coming away from it wowed (although I did remember being wowed by the pecan pie).

This year, things worked out a little differently. First of all, the Barbecue Joint is now closed. Apparently this just happened recently. Upon arriving in the area, we made our first stop at Allen & Son. Guess what? This time, we were wowed. Really, really wowed. I’m not saying the food was any different — maybe it was just as good last year and we Continue reading

Weekend Double Feature: Cuegrass & Fire

Looking for something pork-related to do this weekend?  You have at least two good options.

1) The 14th annual Kings Mountain Firehouse Barbeque Cookoff.  There are 35 teams confirmed to compete in the KCBS-sanctioned cookoff and more than twice that many confirmed judges… hmmm.

2) The 2nd annual North Carolina Cuegrass Festival at The Pit in downtown Raleigh.   The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and features music, Ed Mitchell’s BBQ and local beers.  Now that’s a tasty combination plate.  

The headliner musical act is the (in)famous Southern Culture on the Skids.  SCOTS are known for throwing fried chicken into the crowd at their shows.  Since it’s pretty hard to throw chopped barbecue (trust me on this), maybe they’ll toss the fans some hushpuppies.  No word on how much the event costs but it’s a fundraiser for an interesting organization that supports family farms, and I am sure you’ll get your money’s worth in ‘cue and brew too.  Hat tip to burgeoningfoodie and Eryk Pruitt for letting me know about the Cuegrass event.

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