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How Meddlesome Government is Making your Barbecue More Expensive and Less Tasty

The Houston Rodeo Barbecue Grand Champion Kerry Fellows with the pit he used from Pitts by JJ on the Eastex Freeway Saturday March 09, 2013.(Dave Rossman/ For the Chronicle)

The Houston Rodeo Barbecue Grand Champion Kerry Fellows with the pit he used from Pitts by JJ on the Eastex Freeway Saturday March 09, 2013.(Dave Rossman/ For the Chronicle)

Why Freddy’s Barbecue Couldn’t Really Exist

 writes: Between taking bites out of his political opponents, Frank Underwood, in the first two seasons of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” liked to visit a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint called Freddy’s. Freddy’s BBQ is fictional and the 100-best-bbqshow used a shack in Baltimore for the set.

[Check out Johnny Fugitt’s book “The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America” at Amazon.com]

DC tourists may be disappointed to learn they cannot sample Frank’s favorite ribs, but the most disappointing fact is not that Freddy’s is fictional. The sad truth is that Freddy’s could simply not exist in DC or in most major cities today.

While researching barbecue restaurants for my recently released book, The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America I visited 365 barbecue restaurants across 48 states. Many owners shared with me that their businesses are hampered by local environmental, safety, and health regulations

Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix, via Associated Press Kevin Spacey as the ruthless American politician Francis Underwood with Robin Wright as his wife, Claire. Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix, via Associated Press

No Tasty Barbecue For You

In Houston, for example, Pizzitola’s Barbecue hangs its hat on being the only remaining Houston barbecue restaurant to cook with a traditional open pit. Pizzitola’s has been smoking barbecue this way for 50 years and was grandfathered into the local safety law banning their traditional method of smoking meat.

ribsmm

“The White Swan came under federal regulations and were required to use electric cookers rather than continuing to smoke as they had for generations.”

As newer barbecue restaurants popped up just outside city limits, Houston lost tax revenue and residents had to leave the city for great barbecue—everyone lost.

[Read the full story here, at TheFederalist.com]freddysbbq

Houston lost tax revenue and residents had to leave the city for great barbecue—everyone lost.

“Today, cities require restaurants to invest tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in safety hoods and equipment.”

It might seem unfair for Pizzitola’s to have such an exemption and, thus, an advantage over their competition, but it’s actually a blessing and a curse. If Pizzitola’s were to make any major changes to the restaurant—like adding a patio or dining-room space—they would lose their grandfathered-in status.

obama-lunch-at-BBQ

Pizzitola’s cannot adapt to compete with other restaurants because this risks losing the way they have been preparing barbecue for 50 years. Eventually this handicap will catch up to them.

No More Opportunities For the Little Guys

Although local regulations have done the most damage, federal regulations are also to blame. From the 1940s until 2009, The White Swan smoked traditional North Carolina pork over smoldering oak.

“It was a shame to see a historic, small town, family-run barbecue joint forced to serve cooked pork rather than traditional smoked barbecue simply to comply with federal food regulations.”

When they franchised in 2009 (and created a number of new jobs), The White Swan came under federal regulations and were required to use electric cookers rather than continuing to smoke as they had for generations.  It was a shame to see a historic, small town, family-run barbecue joint forced to serve cooked pork rather than traditional smoked barbecue simply to comply with federal food regulations.

The rules and costs associated with opening a restaurant today would prohibit Freddy’s, and many of America’s favorite barbecue joints, from ever opening.

In “House of Cards,” Freddy pursued the American dream by opening his doors with not much more than a smoker and cash register. I heard stories like this all around the country…. (read more)

TheFederalist.com

Johnny Fugitt visited 365 barbecue restaurants across 48 states in a year to write his new book, “Check out Johnny Fugitt’s book “The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America” at Amazon.com” target=”_blank”>he 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America.” Fugitt is a freelance writer and officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

[Check out Johnny Fugitt’s book “The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America” at Amazon.com]

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