Employees of Ridgewood Barbecue, now voted No. 1 in Tennessee, serve up some of the restaurant's famous dishes. (Dave Boyd / Johnson City Press)
The people have spoken, and it sounds like their mouths were full of Ridgewood Barbecue’s signature smoked meats.
The Bluff City restaurant beat all its peers in the state for the title of best barbecue, as decided by a Facebook poll posted on the page for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
“I was shocked, I didn’t think we’d get number one,” Ridgewood manager Lisa Peters said Monday, about an hour after the state agency called to notify the eatery of its win. “I’m really happy that we won. It’s kind of a confirmation of something that we’ve known since my grandparents started the restaurant back in the 40s.”
For the win, TNECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty will travel to the tucked-away barbecue destination for a meal Friday.
Peters said Ridgewood is actually closed for employee vacations this week, but said it will be opened specially for the state official.
The statewide attention may bring new customers to the regional favorite, adding to the already substantial wait times during lunch and dinner rushes.
“It’s really a good opportunity for us, but I don’t know how much more business we can handle,” Peters said. “But we always welcome new people who want to come out and try our barbecue.”
In the first round of the competition, Ridgewood beat out other popular local restaurants, including Piney Flats’ Pardner’s Bar-B-Que, and the Firehouse, Dixie Barbecue and Red Pig Bar-B-Que in Johnson City.
In the second and last round, the local restaurant smoked four others from well-established barbecue towns like Memphis, and some out-of-the-way saucers with strong backings in their communities.
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