As much as for his books and movies, Gore Vidal is
remembered for his oft-stated belief that one should
“never pass up a chance to have sex or be on
He should’ve added “or to go to your favorite
barbecue joint because you don’t know when that sucker is
liable to shut down.”
That’s what I told myself recently after
foregoing my usual bi-weekly trip to Bob’s BBQ in
Creedmoor and getting my usual - two huge slabs of
Because of a pending doctor’s appointment, I called
myself being health-conscious and keeping Dr. Ron
off my butt. When I decided to heck with that and
went to get some ribs a week later, though, I was met
not by the usual parking lot full of similarly
carnivorous customers, but by a sign on the door:
WE ARE RETIRED.
Thank you for your patronage!
Now that the joint has closed down, I – like Vidal with sex and TV –
wish I’d gotten those ribs every chance I had.
Owners and twin sisters Paula Ellington and Carla
Mangum told the Butner Creedmoor News
newspaper that they want to spend more time with
their families. That’s understandable, but surely their
families would’ve understood what a hole the
restaurant’s closing will leave in the bellies of so
many customers, right?
If you hear wailing and gnashing of teeth throughout
parts of the Triangle, it’s because those teeth can no
longer gnaw on the juicy barbecue ribs that Ellington
and Magnum served.
I learned of the Granville County institution's closing five days after it shuttered for
good, but still I drove over there a few days later
to see if any unaware fans showed up – and, yes, to
see if maybe the crew at Bob’s had left some uneaten ribs
In the 15 minutes I sat in the parking lot that Saturday, six
cars pulled up to read the “So long, suckers” sign - not really, but thats what I took it to mean - on the
door. Three were from North Carolina, while the
others bore license plates from Colorado, Virginia
The Illinois patriarch, Mr. Evans,
said stopping at Bob’s was automatic every time the
family visited relatives in Atlanta.
“We time the trip so we hit this little town – what’s it
called? - right around lunch time,” he said. “We’re
going to miss that fried chicken.”
Even when Bob’s was open, the ribs were only sold
after 4 p.m. on Saturday. Never could figure that out.
They were often sold out by 6, which is why some of
us – okay, perhaps just I – would program Bob’s
telephone number into our phones and begin
watching the clock around 2 p.m.
At 4:03 – you wanted to wait a few minutes so they
wouldn’t think you were a no-life- havin’, clock-
watchin’, rib-cravin’ desperado, even if you were –
I’d call and order two full slabs of ribs with two
sides, usually macaroni and cheese and sweet potato
fries with each.
Lawd, ha’ mercy. Throw in a complimentary bag of
hushpuppies with each order and you talkin’ ‘bout
somethin’ good t’eat!
And healthy, too.
Let me explain: when you knew a visit to Bob’s
barbecue was on the agenda come the weekend, you
felt obliged to eat more circumspectly throughout the
week, just so you wouldn’t feel too guilty – and to
leave room for more Bob’s.
Southern chronicler Rick Bragg wrote an article for
GQ magazine several years ago that began “I always
wanted some washboard abs. But I also seem to
always want some baby back ribs.”
Me, too, Rick. Me, too. Every time I’m confronted
with the option of abs versus ribs, abs lose.
The first time I entered that carnivore’s Valhalla
known as Bob’s, I foolishly asked Paula or Carla if
they had beef ribs.
Her answer comprised the sweetest two words in the
English language: “Pork, honey.” (I have found my epitaph!)
Not only were Bob’s pork ribs the best and meatiest
I’ve had in the Triangle, they were unbelievably
cheap: a full rack with two sides and hushpuppies
was only $14.95. Despite going there at least twice a
month for the past several years, I’d always pay
quickly and dash out the door – lest they suddenly
realize they were giving away all of that Southern
scrumptiousness for 14.95.
So long, ladies. Enjoy your retirement. We’re gonna
And your ribs, too.