Two aspiring restaurateurs are poised to make their mark on Statesboro’s dining scene – one in a very familiar location, and one in a most unusual one.
Statesboro native Thomas Rushing purchased Boyd’s Pit BBQ and Country Buffet this past summer. Located on Northside Drive, Boyd’s has been serving BBQ since opening in 1969.
Since taking ownership of the business, Rushing has not altered the formula that has made Boyd's a local barbecue landmark.
“I majored in business management at Georgia Southern, and never imagined that I would be in the restaurant business one day, or furthermore, that I liked to cook,” Rushing said. “But, I am really enjoying it. I am so glad that I have the opportunity to own my own business, particularly one that is so well known in our community.”
While Rushing may be a “new” entrepreneur in an established business, Dustin Lard is an established pro with a new business – Hidden Pig BBQ. Located inside the Statesboro Flea Market on Highway 301 North, Lard is using this unique venue to bring his competition barbecue skills to Statesboro.
As an award winning member of Doc and Dicie’s competition BBQ team which competes on the Memphis Barbecue Network, the Statesboro resident won second place in the rib category in the 2011 North Carolina State Championship and sixth place in the 2011 Big Pig Jig in Vienna,
“Our team uses the slogan, ‘Praise the Lard, that is good BBQ’, and our mascot is Pastor Perry Pig,” Lard said. “My five teammates and I have a really good time with it, and we love to compete. I have brought the same cooking techniques to the restaurant that we use in competition. To me, that is what makes my barbecue unique – how it is cooked, and the sauces that we offer.”
Lard has an unusual background having attended both Clown College in Venice, Florida, and Liberty University in Virginia. In addition to those, Lard also has a culinary degree from Johnson and Wales University in North Carolina.
“I actually was a practicing clown with Ringling Brothers for two years,” he said. “Prior to opening the Hidden Pig, I was a produce buyer for a number of years. When the company that I was working for began to downsize, I decided that it would be best to do something else rather than take a job which would have required me to move my family. I saw the ad for the restaurant space, and decided to pursue that.”
Lard said that by smoking his barbecue twice daily, he is able to offer fresh cooked barbecue to his customers to either dine-in or take-out. “I also make my signature sauces daily,” he said. “The barbecue you order for dinner was prepared for dinner. It's not left over from lunch.”
While Lard is focusing on getting his business off of the ground, Rushing is looking to expand one facet of his.
"The prior owner did not do a whole lot of catering," he said. "I have been working on increasing that part of our business, and it is going very well. It is difficult, and requires a lot of planning, but it is rewarding at the same time. I am so optimistic about it, and I see both sides of our business growing, catering and in-restaurant dining."
Rushing is particularly grateful to his "regulars", some which eat there twice a day.
"I can't say thank you enough to those folks, for giving me a chance to serve them, and to continue to provide the food that they are used to and enjoy," he said.
While Rushing doesn't bottle the barbecue sauce that he makes, Lard is in the process of having the first batch of his homemade sauce bottled by Braswell Foods in Statesboro.
"We serve five different sauces, but the one we are bottling first is Four Varmits' Sweet Chile & Bourbon Sauce," he said. "The other sauce selections are a peach sauce, a traditional vinegar sauce, an eastern North Carolina sauce, and an Alabama white sauce. Go to our website or call, and if you place your order a day ahead of time, you will receive a discount."
To learn more about Hidden Pig BBQ, you can visit their website at www.hiddenpigbbq.com.