Sometimes you’re able to stop into a storied barbecue shop and spend 20 minutes talking with one of the old time greats of the craft, learning about their techniques and their lives. Other times, you get there too late. We didn’t make it to Cy Quarles’ Mr. BBQ & More before it closed for good, but we did find the chance to practice some barbecue anthropology.MrBBQghostpit.summ

Quarles is one of the standout characters in Professor Wes Berry’s The Kentucky Barbecue Book, appearing again and again as one of Berry’s favorite people to talk to. We were hoping for the chance to interview Quarles ourselves, but when we pulled up to his former store, most of the lights were off and nobody was home.

In this video, we tour the abandoned pit…

After checking out this ghost pit, we stopped in at the nearby Lite Side Cafe & Bakery. The women behind the counter couldn’t tell us much about when and why Mr. BBQ & More shut down, but they believed that Mr. Quarles sold it to a new owner, who “ran it into the ground.” That was sometime around October 2015, a date that matched one scrawled on a now-empty jug of vinegar in the cookhouse.

As Rob says in the video, arriving too late to a place like this only makes us want to get to more places before they too become smoke in the wind.

— Dan Meade & Rob Bellinger
Publication date:
Date of visit: 5/26/2016