... as told by our local newspaper
NOTE: Ribs are now served all the time.
Bigun's Barbeque Hours: Mon - Sat: 10:30 AM - 8 PM Sun: 10:30 AM - 7 PM
December 19, 2008, Pickens Progress
You'll see something new driving north up Highway 515 past Talking Rock. Look to the right where the Carnes Mill General Store burned, and you'll see what appears to be a new restaurant raised from the ashes. It's Rock Solid Express, a convenience store: pumps at the side; cold drinks in the cooler case; a smattering of sundries for sale on the aisles. But the draw of the place is the prepared food you will find there. Rock Solid is as much a sit-down restaurant as it is a convenience store. "We really do put a lot of emphasis on the restaurant side of it," Kelly Teal said. "We call the food part 'Big-Un's Barbecue'." Rock Solid isn't just a convenience store that sells food, he said. It's one that operates a whole restaurant inside.
The Teals are serious about their restaurant business. They open at 5:30 a.m., start serving breakfast at 6, and they don't close the kitchen until after dark around 8 p.m. "It's Big-Un's biscuits, burgers and barbecue—breakfast, lunch and dinner," Kelly Teal declared. He would be Big-un (six feet, five inches), and he takes a tall interest in barbecue done right. Teal chops his smoked barbecue after hand trimming the fat, he said. This lean chop is the stuff of Big-Un's barbecue plates and sandwiches. "And we do ribs and smoked wings," Kelly said. "It's all hickory smoked. The ribs get barbecue sauce. The wings we just smoke." The meat gets its tang in a big box smoker, large as a man, Teal said. The smoke is the secret to this science, he indicated. But how does one arrive as a Professor of barbecue? "You study and ask a lot of questions," Kelly Teal confided. "I like to eat, and I'm stubborn," Kelly Teal said. Applying both talents, he tweaks a recipe until satisfied with its rightness, he said. "I'll try it a thousand times until I'm happy with it," he said.
Take Big-Un's Brunswick stew—maybe the best you'll put in your mouth north of the Etowah. Trying is believing. "I guarantee you," Teal said, "every day we have someone say it's the best Brunswick stew they ever had." Take a seat in the Teals' country-casual dining area on one of their bent-wood Sunday school chairs, and the drift of hickory out of the kitchen will tune your taste buds toward indulgence. "What's different about us, we cook what you want when you want it," Teal said. That includes custom burgers grilled to order on a charbroiler, Teal said. Dressed in fresh onion, lettuce, tomato, and condiments, cheesed with your choice of Swiss or American, Big-Un burgers offer a sensory ride down memory lane. Here's a transport to that burger joint of your youth, to life before the word "franchise". And no, don't super-size me. Big will do. "We have big and little sizes—nothing in between," Teal said. "No medium sizes here." That's because Big-Un's serves the committed, Teal said. No fence-straddling allowed.
Because Big-Un's makes burgers to order, they will take orders over the phone to have your meal ready when you arrive, and they prepare take-out orders. "Our best customers, our most consistent customers work at Whitestone, Imerys," Kelly Teal said. As lunchtime approaches daily, marble men at the nearby plant ring the phone to put in their orders. And the cooks start cooking, Lisa Teal said. "Our number is 706-253-PORK," she said. Workers from the crusher plant aren't the only regulars. "The Sheriff's Department comes in," Kelly reported. "They bring five or six cars out here, and they have to pull the tables together. It's nice to see 'em come this far, and it's because of the food," he said. The service ain't bad either. It's of the make-you-feel-at home variety. The Teals make a point, they said, of using a customer's name, not a number, when calling out ready orders. That's because they mean to know their patrons and to enjoy them, they said. "There are people that have been here every day that we've been open," Kelly said. That's since October. "And some of 'em are here three times a day. You can't help but become friends when they are here that often." Teal said he has a salesman customer who stops by the place for the small-town feel of the restaurant. Teal said the man told him he hasn't found many eateries in his travels where diners talk so easily with other diners they don't know and with the restaurant owners. "That's what I like: meeting people; hearing about their grandchildren," Lisa Teal said.
The fire that burned the old store at Carnes Mill left underground gas tanks and aboveground pumps undamaged, Kelly Teal said. Now upgraded pumps allow customers to fill vehicle tanks with a credit card without coming inside the store, he said. But he doesn't worry about getting people inside, Teal said. "If we become a regular stop for you for fuel, sooner or later you'll smell that hickory smokin', and we'll get you in the store," he reasoned. From there, you're a goner for sure. "And we're always here," Teal said. SMOKIN'.
Thursday, April 30, 2009, Times Courier - Out on a Limb - Al Summers, News Editor
"It Ain't A Store, It's A Barbeque Place" — As most of you know it is the goal, no make that my duty, of this column to inform readers, and especially those who enjoy the finer things when it relates to pleasing the palate, when a dish, cook, or restaurant stands out and deserves recognition.
Get the scissors and cut this column out and stick it on the fridge, because Percy and I have found one of those gems, and you need to reward your taste buds by visiting.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mind asked me if we wanted to try some barbeque from a gas station between Ellijay and Jasper.
Percy hopped in the van, set the air-conditioner vents to blow straight to his face, hit the button for his favorite radio station, stuck his nose out the window, and then looked at me and ordered, "Southward Q Ball." We ended up at Bigun's Bar-B-Que in Talking Rock. It is where the old Carnes Mill Store used to be before it burned down.
I will have to admit, as a rule, gas station and convenience store aren't usually known for their prowess for smoking pork, although some places will fool you.
Bigun's does more than fool you — it has you leaving thinking about the next time you are going to return.
When the glorified rat and I visit these places, we usually look for that platter that has a sampling of everything. At Bigun's you are looking at pork and a couple of sides, no Pig Pen Platter or Farmer's Feast. In our opinion, if the barbeque is good, anything else is a waste of time.
Kelly and Lisa Teal have hit pay dirt on ribs and hickory smoked chicken wings, and everything for that matter.
Back to the ribs- those sent from heaven ribs—they are meaty, tasty, moist and they are fall-off-the-bone tender. Outside of what my Dad has served on occasion, the Bigun's ribs are the best I have ever put in my mouth. And, that is a pretty tall order considering all of the fine barbeque places we have to eat around here.
But, for the ribs to be as fantastic as they are, the chicken wings will hurt your feelings because you had to wait a long time in life to get something as good as they are.
Kelly and Lisa serve these extraordinary delicacies Thursday thru Saturday while supplies last.
The other items at Bigun's are very good too, including chopped pork that goes in sandwiches and plates.
But if you see the News Wagon parked there, we are probably not getting gas or lottery tickets.
As Percy says "It Ain't A Store, It's A Barbeque Place."
And a darn fine one it is. 706-253-PORK (7675). Tell them the possum sent you.