The Georgia Pig is a Barbecue Throwback to Old Fort Lauderdale
Check out the full slideshow of Georgia Pig here.
You can see it pluming up all the way down Davie Boulevard, and south down 441: It's smoke. Thick ribbons of smoke, reaching up and over the busy highway from the soot-stained chimney of the Georgia Pig. Even with your windows up, you can't drive through that stretch of old State Road 7 and not feel drawn in by its rich scent, the perfume of smoldering oak and slowly rendered pork.
As far as barbecue goes, it's one of the true purveyors of the craft, far more art than simple cookery. And owners Wayne and Joann Anderson know the trade inside and out -- they've done it nearly all their lives. A Fort Lauderdale institution, the Georgia Pig has remain nearly untouched since Wayne's parents Linton and Frances Anderson opened it on February 13, 1953, more than half a century ago. And it still packs up daily with folks looking for old-fashioned, stick to your ribs food.
Nearly everything is here old-fashioned. The central open pit is stoked every day, early in the morning. The staff is quick and kind and call you "hon" when they drop your pork platters. The walls are lined with black and white photos and yellowed newspaper clippings. The Georgia Pig is a true picture of Fort Lauderdale as it once was, and in some ways, still is.
We sat down to talk with owners Wayne and Joann about the restaurant's amazing history, its legacy, and what it is that makes damn fine 'cue.
Wayne: They were both from the farm, so they knew had to cook. But my mother had a sister back home in Jesup [Georgia] who knew how to barbecue. They had opened a place in the '40s called the Pig, and it was doing really well. Dad had come down here to do carpentry when they were starting to build Fort Lauderdale -- a lot of people from that area came here. But [his sister] kept telling mom and dad you ought to do barbecue, you'd do real well.
How did they first open the Georgia Pig?
Well it's a long story but dad basically [had an accident] one day and got to thinking that maybe he ought to do something else. [Laughs] So they had started a grocery store across the street here, and this was a meat market. And they bought it, and decided to turn it into a restaurant.
So this was a meat market at one point?
Yes, the small building out in the back was and part of this building, so they just built off of it. It was not a gas station...
(The young pit man Richie Thompson chimes in): Let's set the record straight?
Wayne: Someone started the rumor it was a gas station, and it's not true. I was here.
How old were you when it opened?
I was six.
So you grew up here?
Joann: And our daughter did too. Everybody in the family, he had three sisters, every one of them worked here. That was, you know, what you did.
How long have you worked here, Richie?
Richie: Four years.
Are you teaching him everything you know?
Wayne: Well, not everything. [Laughs]
Joann: You gotta keep some secrets! [Wayne's] mom was like that. When she would give me a recipe she'd always leave something out so hers would be better. It really wasn't on purpose though, because someone who has done it for years and years, they just do it and don't think about it anymore.