Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On Barbecue and Dick Howell's

While the area's porcine inhabitants may be rejoicing today, aficionados of great pork barbecue and Southern style hot dogs are mourning the possible loss of Dick Howell's Barbecue Pit in North Florence. Howell's has been a fixture in the Shoals for more years than most of us can remember and was one of the first businesses to be patronized by both black and white customers.

Yet there's an interesting connection to another famous barbecue establishment of which many are not aware. Chris Lilly (pictured) is a Shoals native who currently manages Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur. He lists Dick Howell's along with Wright's Barbecue in Petersville as being strong influences in his culinary life, but that's still not the primary connection.

It seems Lilly's father built Howell's Pine Street location. The small concrete structure is said to have suffered substantial damage in a late afternoon fire. We hope this Shoals icon of fast food is soon open again and influencing a future generation of chef's.

What's up with this: If you're waiting at ECM and inquire about the the hospital's dining facilities, someone will usually direct you to Bunyon's Barbecue. We agree Bunyon's is tops, but what does this say about our local medical facilities?