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Etowah restaurant promises Eastern NC barbecue

The Old Etowah Smokehouse will open soon on U.S. 64. The Old Etowah Smokehouse will open soon on U.S. 64.

If you tried to get a permit for a wood-fired barbecue pit like the one at the old BBQ Shack in Etowah, you probably could not do it, Peter Rath said.

Rath and Tim Rice, two of the partners who bought the Etowah Valley Golf Resort, plan to reopen the restaurant within the next few weeks as Old Etowah Smokehouse. They've recruited Mike Moore, who won a following among Asheville diners for his Blind Pig Supper Club and Seven Sows. The secret weapon in the barbecue war: Moore is from Wilson, in the heart of Eastern North Carolina's barbecue country.

"I think it's going to be the best there is," Rath said. "You don't get too much whole hog barbecue around here."

Indeed, most of the barbecue in these parts is made from pork shoulders, like Lexington-style. When he first lays a pig out, Moore will be using one of the area's best barbecue pits around. Rath and Rice showed off the original brick fire pit — 14 feet by 5 feet by about 3 1/2 feet deep —put in when the BBQ Shack opened in 1983. The meat will be smoked over a wood fire.

Rath, who is food and beverage director at Etowah Valley, said the restaurant will serve chopped barbecue, ribs, fried chicken and country vegetables. They plan to offer a pig-pickin' and fried chicken buffet on Sunday and other seasonal specials. "Once or twice a month we might do a shrimp boil or crawfish night," Rath said. "We'll smoke our own sausage."

They'll also have craft beer taps and wine. For now they'll serve from the back but they have plans down the road to add a bar.

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Moore, who had worked with Rath at his Asheville restaurants, told the AshVegas website that he was thrilled at the possibilities that the Etowah space allows, starting with the indoor barbecue pit. Rath describes it as one of the last barbecue pits of that size grandfathered in under older regulations.

“I plan to pay homage to traditional barbecue and smoked meats with the menu with some kickbacks to Appalachian ingredients,” Moore told the website. “I grew up in barbecue country in Wilson, North Carolina (Eastern NC) and have been a fan of its history and techniques my whole life.”