Jun 28, 2022 - Food and Drink

After a long journey, BBQ Lab nears an opening date in North Hills

Jerry Stephenson stands for a portrait.
Jerry Stephenson, the founder of the Redneck BBQ Lab. Photo: Courtesy of Redneck BBQ Lab

It's been nearly two years since Benson's popular Redneck BBQ Lab announced they would open a new location, called the BBQ Lab, in Raleigh's North Hills.

  • Some equipment — like ventilation hoods, smokers or an ice cream machine — had lead times of 12 months or more.

But if things go smoothly from here, the BBQ Lab hopes to be serving its brisket, pulled pork and ribs by early August.

  • "We're just a final inspection away … from being able to create barbecue here," owner Jerry Stephenson told Axios.

Flashback: After winning awards at numerous barbecue competitions, Stephenson opened the Redneck BBQ Lab in 2017. The spot soon made a name for itself, enticing eaters to make the trek to Johnson County and line up for its barbecue.

  • Stephenson called it the lab because he crafted homemade smokers out of trash cans and spent months fine-tuning recipes for his barbecue sauce, burnt ends and brisket.
  • He even flew down pastrami from Katz Deli in New York to compare it with a recipe he spent six months creating.
  • "Lord knows I've destroyed some meat trying to create something" good, he said. “But I think we've got something that's pretty unique and we like sharing it.”

What to expect: North Hills will be a much different scene. The new BBQ Lab will expand upon the original location's offerings.

  • Its menu will feature craft beer and cocktails, as well as hush puppies and fries.
  • It also will serve brunch on the weekends.

What they're saying: "Almost two years ago I moved to North Hills to kind of learn this area," Stephenson said. "One of the things I've noticed is the Raleigh area loves a good brunch."

  • "So we're going to have brunch — but it's going to be what Jerry likes: the pastrami and eggs, the biscuits that we make and the homemade country sausage that we grew up on."
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