Rodney Scott, award-winning chef James Beard and South Carolina pit master, called Mr. Jones’ son James Jr. for advice on how to rebuild a safer wood-fired barbecue restaurant. The Scott family’s original restaurant in Hemingway, SC was severely damaged by fire in 2013, and Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ pit in Charleston was damaged by fire in 2018 .
“You just have to make things more non-combustible, with metal and fire-resistant doors,” Scott said. “These are things we are not used to thinking about.”
Mr Jones, known locally as Mr Harold, said his restaurant was opened by his grandfather, Walter Jones, and dates back to 1910. He mostly works alone at the two-table restaurant, though that he needs more seasonal and weekend help. of James Jr. and his wife, Betty, since 2012, when Jones Bar-BQ was named America’s Classic by the James Beard Foundation.
“Once we got that award, we were all across the country,” James Jr. said.
Adrian Miller, author of “Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of the Barbecue,” due out next month, said the restaurant’s pulled pork in a vinegar and tomato sauce was similar to the style found in West Tennessee. Marianna is approximately 60 miles southwest of Memphis.
The restaurant is culturally important, Mr Miller said, because there are fewer pitmasters who smoke their meat only on real fire, as Mr Jones does, and because of its longevity.
“Black entrepreneurs have always had barriers that prevent them from surviving,” Miller said. “So having this place that has been around for over 100 years is really amazing.”
Mr Jones said he had no plans to retire. Coach and teacher James Jr., 46, said one of his uncles will likely take over Jones’ Bar-BQ whenever his father walks away.