Those with hankerings for some slow-smoked barbecue ribs and briskets can get their bibs, forks and knives ready.
The owners of Smok’n Pig BBQ will offer their barbecue and more at the Ole Times Country Buffet, which is opening in the former Golden Corral at 714 E. Oglethorpe Highway in Hinesville.
Pat O’Neal, owner of the Hinesville location, is the owner of the two original Smok’n Pig BBQ restaurants in Valdosta and Macon. He also owns a line of restaurants called Mama June’s and the two Ole Times Country Buffets in Savannah and Brunswick.
O’Neal started his barbecue and restaurants in 1996 with one location in Douglas. The Hinesville restaurant is his 13thventure.
“We looked at options about three-four years ago … but we couldn’t make the numbers work at that time … so when this came open I jumped on it,” O’Neal said, adding he has tried to open a location in Hinesville in the past.
“We would like to open in about two weeks, right in the middle of March,” he continued. “We are working day and night to get this open, and so far, the city has been very welcoming to us and we haven’t had any problems.”
O’Neal is a huge proponent in the concept of farm-to-table dining.
“We do everything from scratch. We cook real mashed potatoes … and we use all the freshest vegetables we can get … all Georgia-grown, from the farm to the table … we just emphasize fresh foods, salads and desserts,” he said. “We have our own brand of barbecue sauce, and we just installed a smoker here in the back. We will have a barbecue day, but there will be barbecue available every day as well as baked chicken.”
Deborah Harter was recently hired as the general manager and served as GM at the Golden Corral.
“We had a large following,” she said of the former restaurant and said the community has responded well to the fact that another buffet restaurant, especially one offering slow-smoked and home-style barbecue, is coming in.
“We will open at 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday,” he said. “We will do breakfast on Saturdays and Sunday, so we will open at 7 on Saturdays and 8 on Sundays. Monday and Tuesday nights, we will close at 8 p.m. and until 9-9:30 the rest of the week, depending on the community’s need.”
Harter and the restaurant group are accepting applications for workers. O’Neal said they are looking to employ 70-75 people. He added that once the business is open and things get settled, they plan to offer off-site catering.