Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Saturday in the Pork

William Morris, Jr. outside his smokehouse in Hookerton, North Carolina. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

To find Hookerton’s only barbecue joint follow 1st Street southeast as it leads out of diminutive downtown Hookerton. The name of the cotton field-lined road you’re now driving along is named for the half-century-old plus smokehouse down a mile on the left. Yes, that’s right, Morris Barbeque is of such local import that the town went and named a highway after it.

Willie McKinley Morris opened his barbecue joint in 1956. The place began as a country store, where he soon started selling whole-hog cue out of a horse and buggy, Saturdays only. Morris operated a tobacco and hog farm with his wife Frankie, and the weekend barbecue became not only a way to sell pigs he could not sell at market but a break from his workweek, or “play time” in the words of his grandson.

That grandson, William Morris, Jr., born the same year as Morris Barbeque, now oversees the family legacy. The early morning chopping and seasoning of the meat is done by committee; a group of six taste and judge for texture, consistency, and spice. Though this is barbecue by ballot, the final word is reserved for Morris, Jr.’s daughter— and masterful baker of sweet treats—Ashley. Morris Barbeque still opens only one day a week (William Morris, Jr., after all, works as a professional landscaper). Most everybody in Greene County makes the drive to Morris BBQ Road, so the barbecue don’t last long.


-Rien Fertel/ The Barbecue Bus


The day begins early in the morning in the Morris Barbeque smokehouse. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)
Hogs on the pits at Morris Barbecue. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)
William Morris, Jr prepares trays of ribs and skins for the first customers of the day. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)
The barbecue plate at Morris Barbeque, chopped pork, hush puppies and coleslaw. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)



Customers often call in advance to reserve ribs and skins at Morris Barbeque. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)


Customers pick up from a window or sit inside the small restaurant space on Saturday mornings in Hookerton. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)
Sweet tea at Morris Barbeque. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

William Morris, Jr shares a laugh with a customer on a Saturday morning in Hookerton, NC. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

The crisp pig skins are coveted by customers on Saturday mornings at Morris Barbeque. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

Ashley Morris, left, who oversees the kitchen at Morris Barbeque, helps Colby Shirley barbecue sandwiches. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)
Morris Barbeque founder Willie Morris. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

Pork is chopped still steaming directly from the pit. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)
Morris Barbeque's patrons come from near and far on Saturday mornings to enjoy the cue on Morris BBQ Road. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)
The Morris Barbeque dining room becomes a meeting place for friends and family on Saturday mornings. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ The Barbecue Bus)

Morris Barbeque
891 Morris BBQ Rd.
Hookerton, NC 28538

(252) 747-2254
Open Only on Saturday: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

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