Two local hospitality professionals, Jim Bethune and Eric Swain, recently took their love of southern barbecue to a whole new level. The two opened the doors to their Woody's Bar-B-Q franchise on Feb. 20 to a very excited public.
"There has been a lot of excitement about the restaurant that we didn't necessarily expect," Swain says. "People here love barbecue; when you say barbecue, they're like... ‘Southern barbecue!?' When they go south to the States they enjoy the barbecue there and now there's an opportunity to come here and get it as well."
The public is so excited about the restaurant that when some of the flyers went out too early, staff had to turn away more than 100 people on the Friday before opening.
The franchise, which originated in Jacksonville, Florida, currently has more than 30 franchises throughout the southern States. The Dartmouth Crossing location is only the fifth to open in Canada so far.
"Right now there is one in Ontario, three in British Columbia and us, with about five or six more slated to open within the year throughout Canada," Swain says.
The food is authentic southern smoked barbecue, which includes southern favourites such as pulled pork and beef brisket. There's a meat smoker in the kitchen that can smoke more than 500 pounds of meat at the same time. It's smoked slowly - beef brisket takes up to 10 hours to cook, which makes it nice and tender.
"I barbecue a lot at home, but at home and the way we do it here are totally different," Bethune says. "It's all about cooking slow and infusing that wood smoke, which you don't do at home. It's comfort food and the taste the smoke brings out is unique. You can't get that smoky flavour taste anywhere else."
It was a year-long process for the two to get the restaurant set up, but they're quite impressed with how it has turned out.
"We choose the best spot in HRM to open a restaurant," Swain says. "We're still working out the kinks in distribution so we can get in some of the staple southern items, such as grits and collard greens. I don't think there's any other place in the city where you can get deep fried corn nuggets and dill pickles."