Grady's BBQ: How North Carolina's only Black-owned whole hog barbecue joint survived the COVID-19 pandemic

DUDLEY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Grady's Barbecue has been owned by Steve and Gerri Grady, 86 and 76, since 1986 in Dudley, North Carolina. The iconic barbecue joint could have been lost this year, and with it a precious piece of North Carolina's tradition

Today, Grady's stands as one of North Carolina's few whole hog smokehouses, and currently the only one that is Black-owned.

The COVID-19 pandemic put the Gradys' lives at risk and could have made the restaurant one of the many closings of the past year.

Mr. Grady tested positive for COVID-19 in June and was hospitalized. His fever eventually broke and he returned home.

"It wasn't nothing but God intervening," Mrs. Grady said. "You read about (COVID), you hear about it, you try to be cautious, then bam! When you experience it, it's different."

The restaurant stayed closed until July, but reopened in time for the Grady's 34th anniversary.

Mr. Grady learned to cook whole hog barbecue from his father and grandfather, who cooked a couple pigs a year in the fall or winter for holidays and celebrations, the pits dug into the ground. Mrs. Grady learned to cook at 9 or 10 years old, she said, from her mother and grandmother and later her mother-in-law. The recipes might as well be written in smoke.

"This is cooking the old fashioned way," Mrs. Grady said. "This is all we've ever known. This is country. It's a dash of this and a dash of that. There are no measurements."

As the only Black-owned whole hog restaurant currently open in North Carolina, Grady's preserves the very roots of the state's barbecue history and traditions.

You can read the full News & Observer story here.
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