A recent story in the StarNews of Wilmington, NC notes that a local Piggly Wiggly has been slow cooking barbecue in house for more than a year. The store is located in the small town of Leland, which is in Brunswick County (no relation to the stew) just outside of Wilmington. According to the article, “Beef brisket, ribs, pulled pork, hams, chickens – the deli counter at this grocery store is a barbecue lover’s dream.”
Last year the Leland Piggly Wiggly paired with a Georgia company called SmokeRise. According to the SmokeRise website, their “program” (ain’t that a clinical term?) is as follows: “After a detailed, in store analysis, we recommend all items needed… to place a turnkey business in your location… We also provide a complete, comprehensive training program to ensure your staff is fully trained in all processes of the business.”
The SmokeRise-installed cooker at Piggly Wiggly is fueled by propane but uses real hickory logs, sort of a hybrid approach to cooking. Although this is not quite the traditional art of barbecue, it sure sounds like a positive step compared to the pre-packaged swine-swill often sold at grocery stores. That said, it does make me a little nervous to have the SmokeRise men marching from Georgia through North Carolina like long-lost members of Sherman’s army.
The critical question, of course, is how good does this Georgia barbecue invasion taste? Well, let’s turn back to the StarNews, which reported positively on the barbecue produced in the Piggly Wiggly in a 2008 story. At the time, the reporter said it changed her opinion of grocery store barbecue. Being better than typical grocery store barbecue is a pretty low threshold to cross, but it’s something. And it sure seems like it makes good business sense to offer decent ‘cue at a grocery store.