Most Lincolntonians won't remember when there was no Ber-B-Q King. Back in the 1970s, there were other places to get barbecue. Cook's on South Aspen Street and Bar-B-Q Barn, at the corner of E. Main and Green streets next to Boger City Baptist Church.
Steve and Becky Abernethy, a farmer and a teacher who lived off Startown Road opened Bar-B-Q King at the corner of East Main Street and Buffalo Shoals Road on September 1st, 1971. Steve already had experience smoking pork shoulders and decided to put his expertise to work in the business. Interest rates were high, and during the early days, the hours were long. At first, they were open seven days a week 10 AM - 10 PM.
They decided to start being closed on Sunday, a decision that was never regretted. Then in the 1980s, the restaurant was expanded to triple the seating capacity.
Through extremely high interest rates and long hours they surprisingly never second guessed their decision to open a restaurant.
Keith Smith started working there in 1977 when he was just 16 years old. He worked while attending school, and then spent about a year as a welder.
Then he returned, and after several years as a loyal, ethical, and dependable employee, Becky and Steve decided to make him a partner.
His sons, Jordan and Jared also became a part of the team. The work family is close and Jordan says the great employees past and present have made trhe 50 years possible, especially Kelly Lineberger who has been there over 40 years.
A part of the charm of the Bar-B-Q King is the unique counter service ordering system. Orders placed at the counter are hollered to the cooking staff located several feet behind.
Bar-B-Q King serves fresh, pit-smoked barbecue what they call 'Piedmont style'--with a sweet tomato-based sauce. Some call that Lexington style barbecue and others call it Western Carolina--as opposed to the vinegar-based Eastern Carolina style. Their sweet tea and onion rings are favoritre side orders.
In addition to Lincoln County's favorite barbecue, they serve freshly made hamburgers. The burgers are hand patted daily. While they didn't invent it, they also serve another Lincolnton favorite, the half and half sandwich.
Jordan told us, "we know the importance of giving back to our community. Bar-B-Q King regularly donates to local schools, churches and other organizations.
As a celebration of their 50th anniversary this Wednesday (Sept. 1st) for the one day only, they'll be offering a throwback price of $1.99 on their regular BBQ sandwiches all day (lunch and dinner). They'll also be handing out anniversary cups and stickers (while supplies last); and they'll have 50th anniversary shirts and hats for sale.
Jordan told us Tuesday, "Our pits will be smoking at max capacity thru the night and we will have extra staff, so we hope everyone will come help us celebrate our 50th!"