Column: Replacing Wilber’s, Bill’s, Allen & Son and Carolina Bar-B-Q

Published 6:44 am Saturday, July 6, 2019

I am in trouble and you can help.

It is all about food, about the closing of some of the best barbecue and country cooking eateries that I featured in my “North Carolina Roadside Eateries.”

Barbecue places like Wilber’s, Bill’s, Carolina Bar-B-Q, Allen & Son and other eateries.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

It is time to update the book and I have made a list of possible replacements for our lost treasures.

Here is a list of the closed restaurant followed by a possible replacement.

Union Grove-Hamptonville: Cool Shack/Debbie’s Snack Bar

We have lost the inspiring combination of good food and good music that Myles and Pat Ireland served up at the Cool Shack in Union Grove. The music can’t be replaced, but for a quick bite of country cooking, Debbie’s Snack Bar in Hamptonville might be even better.

Statesville: Carolina Bar-B-Q/ Randy’s Bar B Que

After 32 years, Carolina Bar-B-Q owners Gene and Linda Medlin closed their restaurant in 2017. The good news is that Robin and Randy Pittman, owners of Randy’s Bar B Que in Troutman, have opened a branch of Randy’s in the Carolina Bar-B-Que building.

Dodson: The Lantern/ Central Café

Sadly, The Lantern, one of my favorites in Dodson, closed several years ago. Thankfully, in the same location, Noel and Julie Easter have moved their Central Café to the Lantern location bringing good meat and vegetable plate options much like the Lantern.

Graham: Angelo’s Family Restaurant/ Sutton’s at the Wrike.

When Angelo’s Family Restaurant closed in 2016, it left people in Graham without its gigantic calzones. The following year, residents saw the opening of Sutton’s at the Wrike. Located in a former Wrike’s Pharmacy building, it brings a branch of Chapel Hill’s famous Sutton’s Drug Store to Graham. Because Sutton’s in Chapel Hill is a place where I like to hang out, I feel at home in Sutton’s at the Wrike.

Henderson: Nunnery-Freeman Barbecue/220 Seafood

The closure of Nunnery-Freeman Barbecue concluded an important chapter in North Carolina barbecue history. Owner Gary Freeman’s father, the original owner, invented a barbecue cooker that many restaurants used to cook a good product without the backbreaking “cooking over wood coals” method.

For hungry travelers there is good eating option at nearby 220 Seafood, which is like an old-time fish camp and is a local gathering place.

Lumberton: Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que and Candy Sue’s/ Pier 41

The storm flooding along the Lumber River knocked out Fuller’s Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que in Lumberton and Candy Sue’s, which was a favorite of world-famous author and Lumberton native, Jill McCorkle.

I asked my friend and eatery expert, Randy Garner, to help find a replacement. He wrote, “Pier 41 in Lumberton is better than Calabash.”

It will make a great replacement.

Goldsboro: Wilber’s/ McCall’s BBQ

Barbecue fans like me went into shock in March when we got the news that Wilber’s had closed.

But in the meantime, just a half-mile from Wilber’s is McCall’s BBQ and Seafood. It serves great Eastern-style barbecue and some of the best fried chicken in the state.

Wilson: Bill’s Barbecue/ Flo’s Kitchen

Bill’s Barbecue in Wilson closed this year after more than 55 years in business. The gigantic biscuits at Flo’s Kitchen will make you happy if you follow two rules: Bring cash and get there before noon. The late Florence Williams and her daughter, Linda Brewer, taught the biscuit makers her secret baking process. It involves hand-patting, lard, baking the inside first, adding some cheese, then topping with eggs and meats. They will make you miss Bill’s a little less.

I am looking for nearby replacements for Allen & Son near Chapel Hill, Acropolis in Cornelius, Miss Maude’s in Benson, and Holland’s Shelter Creek Fish Camp near Burgaw.

If you have suggestions, please write me at 

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” Sundays at 11 a.m. and Tuesdays at 5 p..m on UNC-TV. The program also airs on the North Carolina Channel Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and other times.