#MadeInRVA: King’s Barbecue celebrates 70 years in Petersburg

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — King’s Barbecue has been serving up old-school, Southside Virginia barbecue for decades.

“It’s an actual style of barbecue that’s different from North Carolina or Texas. It actually pre-dates all that,” said general manager Matt Keeler.

The Petersburg restaurant is celebrating 70 years of business this month.

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Alicia Keeler and her mother, Joan, are co-owners.

“My grandfather and his brothers started our business back in 1946,” said Alicia Keeler. “People have come in for generations and brought their families. It makes us really feel good.”

Matt Keeler says the key is that it’s simplified. No rub is put on the meat, it’s a simple smoke and the sauce — which is vinegar and tomato based — is usually put on afterwards.

He says you won’t see any other options at the restaurant.

“It’s just King’s Barbecue sauce. That’s it.”

But for fans all across the world, that’s enough.

“California, Maine, Florida. I’ve shipped to Scotland. I’ve shipped to Australia,” he said.

They pump out 100 to 150 gallons of the red stuff every week, selling bottles in house and online.

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And every one is handled right there at King’s.

“I’ve bottled every bottle. I’ve labeled every bottle. Everything has my handprint on it,” said Keeler.

As for the meat, he says everything is hand chopped.

“Nothing goes through a machine. Every pound that goes out, every sandwich, is hand chopped by one guy,” he said.

meatIn a given week, they go through 3,000 pounds of pork, 600 pounds of beef and “lots” of chicken.

“It’s a lot of hard work but we enjoy it a lot,” said Keeler.

He says barbecue is a community event that brings people together.

“Everybody and anybody is eating barbecue. You have your workers, you have your businessmen, your lawyers and your doctors,” he said. “Anybody who’s anybody is eating at the same place at the same time.”

King’s Barbecue is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

To learn more about its history and sauce, click HERE.

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