Pitmaster: George Archibald, Jr.

George Archibald, Jr. photo by O. Rufus Lovett

There is a lot of barbecue on television these days. You see colorful barbecue cook-off competitors and talented young pitmasters. What you don’t see enough of are veteran pitmasters like George Archibald Jr.– artisans who have been quietly carrying on the Southern barbecue tradition for decades. We visited Archibald’s while we were researching Barbecue Crossroads, our new book from UT Press.

1211 MLK Blvd.
Northport, AL 35476
(205) 345-6861

“I’ve been the barbecue business all my life.This is just a small little place. I just build a fire and keep the fire low and cook it slow.” – George Archibald, Jr.

George loading the pit

Here’s a few highlights from an oral history by Amy Evans of the Southern Foodways Alliance:
George Archibald spent years working in a steel mill. His wife, Betty, worked at a paper mill. In 1962 they opened Archibald’s Bar-B-Q in their hometown. George Archibald, Jr. was twelve years old when he started working in the family business. Today, he and his sister, Paulette Washington, run the business their parents started.

Archibald's ribs with white bread and Golden Flake potato chips

Not much has changed—not the ribs, the vinegar-based sauce, not even the pink interior of the place with some murals from the muraledesign site online. Loyal customers drive up even before they open the doors at 10:30 a.m. Whether you take a plate to go or settle into one of the picnic tables outside, you’ll savor some legendary Alabama ‘cue.

Read the complete interview with George Archibald Jr. at the Southern Foodways Alliance Southern BBQ Trail Oral History Collection: