Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Shelby
Debbie Bridges-Webb
2000 E. Dixon Blvd.
Shelby, NC 28152
(704) 482-8567

“This is another Shelby/Warner Stamey story. It seems that while Warner Stamey was in Shelby, he not only taught Alston Bridges the fine art of slow cooking pork shoulders over hickory coals, but he imparted these skills to another Bridges as well. After his tutelage with Warner Stamey, Red Bridges (no relation to Alston) established his legendary barbecue restaurant in 1946. Red’s first barbecue place was in the old Dedmons building; Red called it Dedmons Barbecue. In 1948 Red and the other redheaded Bridges, Red’s wife Lyttle, opened a restaurant uptown that they call Bridge’s Barbecue. In 1953 the restaurant moved to its present site. Lyttle has been carrying on the business since Red’s death in the late 1960s.

With Red gone, Lyttle has sole dominion over the title “The Redhead.” The other name by which she is affectionately known is “Mama B.” Red and Mama B’s only daughter Debbie Bridges-Webb now manages the restaurant. Debbie said Mama B, now 85 years young, makes only a cameo appearance at the restaurant about once a week to make sure Debbie is doing everything like her mama taught her. When Mama B, the grande dame of barbecue in the Shelby area, holds court, everyone vies for her attention.

The barbecue is served minced, chopped or sliced. The minced is finely chopped (too fine for my taste) and comes generously sauced. The chopped barbecue pork is moderately coarse and moist with deep, rich brown-roasted pork flavor. There’s enough outside brown to kick in the smoky, woodsy, roasted-over-an-open-pit taste that we barbecue aficionados seek. This ’cue with the sauce (served hot at the table) is simply delicious.

The outside brown barbecue pork is absolutely the best outside brown you will ever eat. The woodsy, smoky, nutty-flavored pork is tender to a fault and, with sauce, is THE BEST. The sliced barbecue pork is tender, tender, tender. The moist pork flakes with a fork and has good roast pork taste with hints of smoky, nutty brown flavor. It’s absolutely wonderful. The tangy brownish-red sauce is tart with sweetness. The sweet and sour makes your tongue and taste buds tango and your soul happy. I love this stuff.”

Excerpts from The Best Tar Heel Barbecue Manteo to Murphy pages 138-139.