Is great barbecue something you just can’t franchise?
- BBQ Jew
- There’s just not a Mr. Barbecue on every block.
At a time when robots will soon be responsible for slicing noodles, the romantic in me is secretly glad that barbecue at its core resists some of the technology that leaks into restaurant kitchens. This is not a rant directed at pellet smokers or machine-cut fries, it’s instead an admission that the romantic in me is glad that at the heart of any great barbecue restaurant, there’s a man or woman with a singular vision of how the meat should be smoked.
Eatocracy has a short, interesting piece (done in conjunction with the Southern Foodways Alliance) on Little Pigs of America, which was, at one time, the country’s largest barbecue chain before winking out like an untended fire. The decline or rise of barbecue restaurants is directly related to the pitmaster — each one is like the engine deciding just how far a place can go. So does the very nature of what’s needed for great barbecue — a pitmaster as seasoned as a good pit — prevent the hypothetical existence of any great barbecue chain? Is barbecue — righteous barbecue — simply something you can’t franchise?