Black Mountain welcomes Sqweelin' Pig BBQ restaurant
There's nothing easy about cooking the meat that customers will find at Sqweelin' Pig BBQ, which opens Saturday, March 3 at the former Gateway Eatery in Black Mountain.
The food truck, which has operated in Barnardsville and Weaverville for the past six years, features meat cooked exclusively by a wood fire. The brisket, ribs and Boston butts have become so popular with customers, the family-operated business is expanding for a third time.
The story of the Sqweelin' Pig goes back to when Buddy Clemons, or "pit daddy" as his wife and co-owner Melissa commonly refers to him, lost his job in 2012. Buddy had to decide if he wanted to return to his career in electric work and construction or blaze a new trail.
"I thought, 'I'm going to sell barbecue,'" he said. "From then it was on."
Buddy purchased a trailer and retrofitted it with a massive grill. He was a man on a mission, Melissa said.
"He built that whole thing himself," she said. "I was so proud of him because he did such an outstanding job. Every day when I would get home he would show me the progress."
His cooking concept is simple: get the most flavor out of the meat by using wood as the only heat source.
"I've been cooking that way for 22 years," he said. "There's no other way to get this taste."
Buddy started selling out of the black and pink food truck in Barnardsville. People couldn't get enough, he said.
"My daughter Chloe was helping me at first," he said. "But she had to go back to school, and I told my wife she was going to have to quit her job and help me."
In no time the couple had outgrown their Barnardsville location and moved to Weaverville, where Sqweelin' Pig continued to thrive. But they had their eye on Black Mountain, where their family had lived for 15 years before moving to Madison County.
"We needed more room for storage," Buddy said. "We looked at a few spots here and there, and my son called me one day and told me Gateway closed down."
Buddy and Melissa thought the space that was formerly home to Gateway Eatery, which closed last November, would be ideal for the Sqweelin' Pig. The Clemons family expects the building to be ready by April, but customers will be able to start ordering from the food truck on March 3.
Less than 24 hours before their Black Mountain debut, Buddy was already smoking his larger slabs of meat.
"I've had the fire going since about 8 a.m.," he said March 2 while tending to the flame. "I'll cook my bigger pieces, like brisket and Boston butts for as long as 12 hours, while my chicken halves and spare ribs usually stay on closer to six or seven hours."
It's the process of cooking the meat that Buddy loves, he said.
"I wouldn't cook if I couldn't do it using a wood fire," he said. "I spend the whole day tending to the fire and keeping an eye on the meat. It's the best way to get it right every time."
Buddy and Melissa were excited about bringing the Sqweelin' Pig to Black Mountain.
"We always hoped we'd find out way back here," Buddy said, checking the fire in his grill. "We're happy to be here."
The Sqweelin' Pig is open daily for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Buddy said, but will stay open until 9 p.m. once the building is ready later this spring.