by Lauren Hunt
“Good, better and best,” are three words Faye Bland, owner of the Bar B-Q Ranch, uses to describe the barbeque on the menu.
Eugene Taylor opened the Bar B-Q Ranch in 1947, 15 years before Interstate 81 was built. The original Bar B-Q Ranch consisted only of what’s now the kitchen, and customers either ate outside or ordered to-go. Today, the restaurant includes an indoor dining room and overhangs that provide dry, outdoor seating.
Inside, tables and booths are covered in red- and white checked tablecloths. A jukebox that has a habit of spitting out new, state quarters sits in the far corner. Pig figurines line the walls. There are piggy banks, stuffed pigs, pigs in costumes and even a pig on a motorcycle. Bland began collecting the figurines more than 30 years ago when her husband, Sammy Bland, bought her two as a gift. She estimates the Bar B-Q Ranch now holds about 6,000 figurines.
“There wasn’t a pig in the place when I bought it,” Bland said and laughed. “I still have the two original ones at home in my China cabinet.”
Bland, who bought the Bar B-Q Ranch 30 years ago last October, is usually perched on a chair in the kitchen between a counter and a freezer. She takes to-go orders over the phone and watches over the staff as they wait tables and cook food.
Almost like clockwork, hungry couples and families begin rolling into the parking lot at about 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. The kitchen quickly fills with smoke from the grills and fryers as the two cooks begin to stack barbeque on buns with a practiced hand.
The Bar B-Q Ranch menu boasts more than just barbeque. It includes hamburgers, hot dogs, country fried chicken, homemade vegetable soup and fried pickles — a crowd favorite — just to name a few. All of these items are served on a plastic plate with plastic utensils, of course.
“Not a thing has changed,” Margie Heatwole, a waitress at the Bar B-Q Ranch for the last several decades, said. The Bar B-Q Ranch still uses the same recipe that originated somewhere in western North Carolina.
“People say we’ve changed the recipe, but we haven’t,” Bland added.
And it’s that classic barbeque taste that keeps local residents coming back. All of the barbecue and coleslaw is made in-house with fresh ingredients. Between the homemade barbeque taste and the family cookout atmosphere, the Bar B-Q Ranch continues to bring customers back and sending clean plates to the kitchen, even 68 years later.
“Its just good barbeque,” Bland said.