BBQ Jew’s View: Jack Cobb & Son Barbecue Place

 3883 South Main Street, Farmville, NC
No website
Hours: Wed, Fri & Sat 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A
Porky Says: “Whole hog on the Cobb.” 

A Rich Tradition

The pit at Cobb & Son's by Conor "Swinefactor" Keeney

Jack Cobb & Son Barbecue Place in Farmville is listed on the prestigious NC BBQ Society Trail map but it is well off the beaten path for most barbetourists. Despite offering barbecue that rivals or surpasses that of its geographic peers, Cobb & Son’s remains a quiet respite from the barbecue crowds that descend on places like the famous B’s Barbecue in nearby Greenville.

Cobb & Son’s history as a restaurant is rich with themes that echo the history of barbecue in North Carolina. In particular, barbecue’s history is closely tied to the state’s tobacco heritage; traditionally pig pickin’s coincided with the tobacco harvest, for instance.  According to Jim Early’s The Best Tar Heel Barbecue: Manteo to Murphy, Cobb & Son’s founder Jack Cobb, an African-American, worked for a Farmville tobacco company in the 1940s and had a side business of cooking and selling barbecue to his black co-workers.   Before long, “word spread around the community about Jack’s good ‘cue and white citizens wanted to buy Jack’s barbecue but would not come to Jack’s place to get it. Ever the entrepreneur Jack took his ‘cue to a white friend’s home and this man sold Jack’s barbecue for him.”  Cobb & Son’s continued working to build an integrated customer base throughout decades of difficult race relations and at times encountering opposition from blacks and whites alike. 

Any business from the 1940s that still exists is impressive, and one that has had to overcome hurdles like racism is even more so.  The secret to Cobb & Son’s success all these years? My guess is because they are just plain good at what they do, and the barbecue is delicious regardless of one’s race, politics or preferred brand of cigarettes.  



The grand dining room at Chez Cobb


Jack Cobb’s son Rudy, now in his 70s, runs the restaurant today, as he has since his dad passed away in 1989 (Rudy has worked at the restaurant almost his whole life).   When arriving at Cobb & Son on the edge of downtown Farmville, one gets the sense that little has changed at the place since its founding.  It is a classic barbecue joint if ever there was one.  And, luckily, that classic feeling extends to the simple, delicious food Cobb & Son’s offers up the three days a week it is open for business.  

Cobb & Son’s occupies a fairly large building but there is no seating inside.  The “dining room” at Cobb & Son’s is what can only be described as a mosquito-friendly screened porch, Continue reading