When Parker’s Barbecue in Wilson, NC opened in August 1946, a door connected two buildings, providing access to two very different dining experiences in Wilson. To the left, there were oysters, which you could pair with whatever liquor you packed; to the right, barbecue and sweet tea.
“This was the family side,” says Parker’s current co-owner Kevin Lamm, pointing to the original dining room of the barbecue building. As Lamm puts it, the restaurant’s founders — Graham Parker, Ralph Parker, and Henry Parker Brewer — knew they needed to “make it either one way or the other.” So eventually, he says, “They decided to go the family route.”
Sixty-seven years later, it’s a decision that’s worked out well. Each week, Parker’s smokes about 150 whole hogs — which are chopped and seasoned with a vinegar-and-red-pepper sauce — and fries about 8,000 chickens for 20,000 customers, who start coming early in the day. “We have people eat barbecue at 9:00 [a.m.],” says Donald Williams, who co-owns the restaurant with Lamm and another partner, Eric Lippard.
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