Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lamentations... R.I.P. Bill's Barbecue

As if September 11th is not a sad enough day, I just heard the news today that Richmond icon Bill's Barbecue will be closing all of its stores this week. A Virginia landmark since 1930, the small hometown chain has a particular significance for me and my family. Upon moving to Richmond in 1979, one of the first meals my family ate together was what my father referred to as "Barbecue Bill's"; at the location on West Broad street, near Tucker High School. Richmond was a whole new experience for my family and me, and this new cuisine in our new home was a very significant event for all of us. My father had already started his job at Reynolds Metals (another defunct Richmond icon) six months prior, and the rest of the family had stayed behind to make sure the house sold.  We had finally followed up and moved to Virginia in our Griswold-esque Ford Country Squire on August 9, 1979. Perhaps the first meal we all shared together again was at this local barbecue fast food place (in and of itself, a novelty to us Upstate New Yorkers). We were recommended certain signature items: 1) Beef with cheese, 2) Pork with slaw (They put the cole slaw right on the sandwich!) and 3) The Grape Limeade. This triumvirate became my standard order for the rest of my tenure in Richmond, with no deviations. Perhaps 100+ times I ordered that same meal from 1979 to my departure in 1996. The two sandwiches were absolutely delicious, and the Grape-Limeade was incomparable! Not part of the Holy Trinity, but worthy of mention were their pies. They had amazing pies. Their "Peak-of-Flavor" pies rivaled those of Marie Callender's. Strawberry, chocolate cream, and banana cream. Simply dreamy! I didn't always get the pie on my visits to Bill's, but when I did, they never disappointed.
So the news of the closure comes as a shock to me. What I would give to have one more order of my three favorites. *sigh* More lamentations, and wailing and gnashing of teeth...

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