Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bars and Stars or Bar-B-Que, Why Not Both?

Maurice's Gourmet BBQ
South Carolina

Suit420 recently found himself back in South Carolina.

And since I was just passing through and only had time for a quick lunch, it meant one thing – Maurice’s Gourmet BBQ.

You see, Maurice's is one of my favorite -- if not my favorite -- BBQ "joints" around.

Maurice's has won many awards and has been featured on various food shows.

And Maurice’s BBQ has been around South Carolina for a long, long time.

In fact, Maurice’s dates all the way back to 1939, when Joseph Bessinger opened the first store -- Piggie Park -- in Holly Hill, South Carolina.

The first official Maurice's BBQ opened in 1953.

There are now over ten Maurice’s BBQ locations around South Carolina, most being in the Greater Columbia Area.

But it's not just the food that Suit420 likes about Maurice's so much. It's the man behind Maurice's, Maurice Bessinger.

Maurice Bessinger is proud of his Southern heritage.

So proud that Maurice flies the Bars and Stars on a flagpole outside of most of his locations.

Not only that, but his special mustard sauce – which I’ll touch on more later – has a picture of the Bars and Stars on the side of it, which as you can imagine, has cause some controversy over the years.

And if you're looking for some traditional, Southern BBQ, Maurice's is your place.

Maurice’s proudly still cooks his BBQ the old-fashioned way.

And he uses the best pork hams around, and pit-cooks it slowly over hickory coals for 24 hours, which gives it an amazing hickory flavor.

And no preservatives or chemicals of any kind are used.

Now, one thing you need to know about Maurices is that it isn’t fancy.

Some of the stores that have buffets are larger, but some of them – like the one I dropped by on my visit – are about the size of a small fast-food restaurant.

But no matter which store you go in, the atmosphere is always laid back, and you can be sure you’ll get a good dose of Southern Hospitality while you're there.

And in some of the bigger stores you’ll find books about the Confederacy, books about political philosophy, as well as t-shirts and other good southern paraphernalia.

When it comes to food, Maurice’s has a decent amount to offer on the menu.

You can get a Big Joe (6 ounces of pulled pork) Sandwich, or a Little Joe Sandwich if you’re not as hungry.

There’s BBQ Chicken, BBQ Beef Brisket, Chili, Cheeseburgers and Chicken Fingers.

Or if you’re looking for a “dinner basket,” you can choose from food like a quarter of a pound of pit-cooked BBQ Pork, Carolina Hash over rice, homemade cole slaw, hushpuppies and dinner roll to 4 to 6 tender BBQ Ribs, Carolina Hash over rice, homemade cole slaw, hushpuppies and dinner roll.

Since it was lunch, and I was just passing through, I decided to go with the Big Joe sandwich with French fries and hushpuppies.

You may be wondering where the names “Big Joe” and “Little Joe” come from?

Well, back in 1939, Maurice’s father was known as “Big Joe,” and he and his brother were known as “Little Joe.”

I ordered a sweet tea to drink, and sat down to wait on my food and read a Southern Heritage newspaper that was laying there.

But I didn’t have long to read because my food was ready before I knew it.

And boy did it look good.

To me, Maurice’s is best because of his famous mustard sauce, which is a family secret how it’s made.

The sandwich already had the sauce on it, but Suit420 needed to add a little more. I also like to dip my fries in it.

It’s just that dadburn good.

So, if it’s so good, then why can’t you find it in grocery stores?

Well, years ago, you could find Maurice’s BBQ sauce in Food Lion and other grocery stores.

Until someone complained about the bottle having the Bars and Stars on it.

It what turned it a mess – where a lot of good folks got injured – Maurice’s BBQ sauce was eventually pulled from the shelves because of his unwillingness to remove the flag from the bottle.

If only every American would stand on principle like that.

I dumped some more sauce on my Big Boy, and dug in.

Perfect, I thought.

Once I finished, I looked around for a minute, and just thought about how neat it was that this business had survived since the 1930s.

I bet it's a lot more difficult to start a business these days with Big Brother around.

I walked up to the counter, purchased a shirt and headed on my way.

On the way out I noticed a sign advertising that they were currently hiring.

After over 50 years, even during such tough economic times, not only is Maurice Bessinger providing the public with arguably some of the best BBQ in the country -- but he's also providing good jobs at the same time.

Rating: Bought the Shirt

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