Allen & Son, a his­toric bar­be­cue joint, closes

The News & Observer - - Front Page - BY DREW JACK­SON jd­jack­[email protected]­sob­server.com

Allen & Son Bar­beque, one of North Carolina’s most revered bar­be­cue des­ti­na­tions, has closed.

Keith Allen started the restau­rant 48 years ago at the age of 19, cook­ing pork shoul­ders over wooden coals from logs he split him­self. Its rep­u­ta­tion grew over the years from a Chapel Hill fa­vorite to one of the state’s his­toric restau­rants, in­cluded on the North Carolina Bar­be­cue So­ci­ety’s trail of dis­tin­guished pits and re­cently named by South­ern Liv­ing as the fifth best bar­be­cue restau­rant in the south.

Allen & Son’s last day was Wed­nes­day, Allen said. He closed it qui­etly to avoid a long, tear­ful farewell.

“It would have been very emo­tional, too much to en­dure,” Allen said. “You can’t hug and kiss and cry and all that stuff and still work an 8-hour day. I just want to thank my cus­tomers, with­out them we couldn’t have done any­thing.”

The smok­ers, cook­ware and mem­o­ra­bilia will be put up for auc­tion. Allen does not own the prop­erty, hav­ing leased the build­ing and land since the be­gin­ning.

“We done it for 48 years, we did our run, it’s time to move on,” Allen said Thurs­day in a phone in­ter­view. “It’s a hard thing to walk away from some­thing like this. It’s the cy­cle of life. You do what you’re sup­posed to do as long as you can do it right.”

North Carolina’s bar­be­cue tra­di­tions are part of the state’s iden­tity, a pride­ful con­nec­tion across cen­turies and re­gions over shar­ing smoked pork, whole hog or shoul­ders. Even in the quickly grow­ing Tri­an­gle, Allen & Son ex­isted in the old school, found off Mill­house Drive by way of coun­try roads out­side of ever-de­vel­op­ing Chapel Hill.

Allen is fa­mous for do­ing nearly all of the work him­self, show­ing up at 3 in the morn­ing since the be­gin­ning to light the smok­ers and cook the sides. The restau­rant re­sem­bled a hunt­ing cabin, the din­ing room pan­eled in wood with ducks on the wall and check­ered table­cloths on the ta­bles.

Allen said the clo­sure wasn’t a fi­nan­cial de­ci­sion, that the restau­rant re­mained busy to its last day, though it had cut hours and days over the sum­mer. Over the years, Allen said he had lined up five dif­fer­ent suc­ces­sors, with each ul­ti­mately not work­ing out. In the end, he de­cided to close and sell off the restau­rant in pieces.

Now he said he’ll fo­cus on his other busi­nesses, in­clud­ing sport­ing good store Black­wood Sta­tion Out­fit­ters in Pitts­boro.

The Allen & Son in Pitts­boro will re­main open, oper­ated in­de­pen­dently through a li­cens­ing agree­ment.

After a ca­reer mak­ing some of the most fa­mous bar­be­cue in North Carolina, Allen said he’s proud of the restau­rant he built, hop­ing it added some mea­sure of joy to the com­mu­nity.

“You pro­duce what you can to make the world bet­ter as you’re pass­ing through,” Allen said. “That’s all I can do ev­ery day.”

‘‘ WE DONE IT FOR 48 YEARS, WE DID OUR RUN, IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON. Keith Allen

HARRY LYNCH File photo

Chapel Hill’s Allen & Son was opened 48 years ago by Keith Allen, mak­ing some of North Carolina’s most fa­mous bar­be­cue. Allen closed his bar­be­cue restau­rant Wed­nes­day in Chapel Hill.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.