Old South BBQ Company at 1020 Sea Mountain Highway in the Cherry Grove section of North Myrtle Beach is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., but it may start closing a little earlier during the off-season. The phone number is 663-1056.
Setting the Table
It looks like one of those retro futuristic buildings from the 1960s, with its glass walls, wide roof overhang and giant red arrow inset with light bulbs pointing the way to Old South BBQ Company in North Myrtle Beach.
The aroma of smoking pork tinged with apple and hickory woods may first catch your attention, if you drive by on Sea Mountain Highway between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m., which is how long pork is left in the pit. Open roughly four months now, the site of Old South BBQ Company has been the home of other barbecue and burger restaurants after it started out decades ago as a fish camp.
Inside is a counter with stools and several no-frills tables and chairs. Outside are umbrella-topped red and yellow picnic tables and an old red and white pilot house boat that is destined to become a bar, when owner Butch Rives has time to apply for an alcohol permit. Rives grew up in Charlotte and owned three restaurants (one of them served barbecue) and a car dealership before he sold the restaurants, gave the auto biz to his children and came to North Myrtle Beach with his longtime general manager Tony “Duck” Drumm to operate Old South BBQ. It is, he says, his retirement business.
Down the Hatch
His grandmother was “an avid dancer,” Rives said, and often when his grandparents went dancing on Saturday nights, they’d send him home with Pap, a man who worked at his grandfather’s filling station in Statesville, N.C.. Pap had a stacked concrete block barbecue pit with a grill top made from tin roofing, and that is where, starting at age five, Butch Rives observed the overnight process of barbecue cookery.
“I’ve literally been doing it for 55 years,” Rives said, noting his 61st birthday is soon.
He hasn’t changed the process he learned at Pap’s knee “not one iota,” he says. His rub is plain salt and pepper, and his barbecue is chopped so that pink/purple smoke rings and bark can be seen and savored. About 300 pounds of delicious smoky and tender pork has run out the door, as if it was on the hoof, every day since Old South opened.
Barbecue sandwiches start at $4, a regular-size plate with two sides is $8, and the family meal with 1.5 pounds of Q, three sides and a dozen hushpuppies is $29. Side dishes are corn on the cob, hand-cut fries (they go through up to 150 pounds of spuds per day), onion rings, hushpuppies, potato salad, two kinds of slaw (creamy and tangy Bar-B-Q slaw) and delicious Bar-B-Q beans containing pork shreds.
The barbecue shows up in a lot of dishes, including quesadillas and spring rolls, or on top of nachos. Other non-Q choices include smoked chicken wings (mild, hot, hurt u hot, honey mustard, barbecue), 1/3-pound ground chuck burgers that start at $4, deep-fried hot dog, bacon-wrapped hot dog and fried bologna sandwich.
The meat is served naked, and there are four sauce options that are all red in color. Hot is “true eastern North Carolina style,” mild is Lexington, N.C., style, the sweet is Sweet Baby Ray’s, and, “The spicy red is one I concocted one night while drinking beer, and people seem to like it,” Rives said.
For $5, children ages 10 and younger can choose from chicken tenders, a small barbecue sandwich, a small burger or a hot dog, and the meal includes fries. A quick grab-and-go family value pack offers a pound of barbecue, a pint each of slaw and beans and a choice of four buns or a dozen hushpuppies for $20; while a party pack with a five to six-pound whole Boston butt, three pints each of slaw and beans, eight buns and a dozen hushpuppies goes for $80.
Becky Billingsley serves up fresh news daily at MyrtleBeachRestaurantNews.com.