Sam Jones, known for cooking some of the most acclaimed whole hog barbecue in the South, is coming to Raleigh.
The fourth-generation pitmaster and James Beard semifinalist is opening his second Sam Jones BBQ restaurant at 502 W. Lenoir St., in the former Dusty’s Garage near Boylan Heights, he said, forecasting an opening next fall.
His first Sam Jones BBQ opened in 2015 near Greenville. It’s eight miles from his family’s legendary Skylight Inn in Ayden, a modest brick restaurant topped by a silver Capitol dome, self-proclaiming it as the center of the barbecue universe.
It takes an hour and 27 minutes to get from Raleigh to the back door of the Skylight Inn, but Jones said the same barbecue tradition there will be the centerpiece of what goes on at Sam Jones BBQ in Raleigh.
“There’s no other way to recreate whole hog barbecue, the fat rendering, dripping down over hot coals, sizzling, the plume of smoke rising, there’s nothing else you can do to get it like that,” Jones said in an interview.
“The barbecue at Skylight and Sam Jones BBQ is exactly the same, but the experience is different,” he said. “This will still be Sam Jones barbecue, and (diners) will still be eating a piece of North Carolina history.”
The Jones family opened the Skylight Inn in 1947 as a bare bones operation, serving chopped whole hog barbecue in the Eastern North Carolina way and staying much the same ever since. Skylight is owned by Sam’s father, Bruce, and uncle Jeff Jones and is operated by about a dozen employees, including Sam.
Sam Jones looked at five sites in the Raleigh area for his venture beyond Eastern North Carolina, but came back to a building he first heard about from chef and friend Ashley Christensen, who owns several restaurants in downtown Raleigh.