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7/26/08

Even in BBQ, Branding.

I'm on vacation in Ocean Isle, North Carolina. Day 1, I've already plucked a working watch from the surf, recycled it and claimed it on my wrist. I haven't had a watch in about eight years, so I'm feelin' pretty smug over my sea-sopped trophy. (A Timex Flix Ironman, by the way!)

After an afternoon in the waves, we were pretty hungry and made the rare decision to eat out. We had driven six hours to arrive, had a few provisions but certainly not enough to put together a dinner. Dinner out? I was relieved.


After reading branding tweets for weeks, I thought I'd share the story of Bart's BBQ.

Why did we decide to eat there?
My father told the story about how, last year, we had sent him out to pick up some good ole North Carolina BBQ. Once he got there, he realized he had forgotten his wallet. "I can tell you my card number, " he volunteered. Sensibly, the owner declined. My father thought about the horde of hungry grandchildren back at the cottage, the time it would take to drive back for his wallet, the return drive. Right then the owner's daughter looked at my father and stepped up: "Dad, I trust him."

My father left with BBQ.
In one instant, that shop now had several loyal enthusiast (yo, we were a horde) families, of course returning because their BBQ (and fixin's!) is superb, but also because they gained our loyalty through their kindness.

So here we were, a year later, bringing ten new customers into their store.
On our drive down, my husband and I had discussed at length that during economic hardship, there was always room for businesses that excelled.
And as I read the menu, the story of Bart's BBQ caught my eye, and every ad / branding / engagement article I had happened across in the past few weeks was summed up in one paragraph: the story, the voice, the commitment to excel.

The Bart's BBQ Story:
Joey and Anne Margaret Bartholomew are the owners and operators of Bart's BBQ, with help from their children Trip (17) and Katy (14). Joey is a former textile salesperson for Springs Industries. Anne Margaret is a CPA and former banker. Joey grew up in Raleigh, loving frequent pig pickins. During our 17+ years in Charlotte, we annually organized a summer pig pickin for our neighborhood swim club. With this experience under his belt, and having worked in restaurants as a teenager, Joey realized he could have his dream life (including golf and boating) by relocating and opening Bart's. We fell in love with Sunset Beach many years ago, so it was natural to look here for a new venture. We decided in November 2003 to make a major lifestyle change, and the dream began! Bart's opened on March 23, 2004, and we've been going strong ever since. Providing our customers outstanding service is our #1 priority, and we appreciate your comments and suggestions. We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to serve you, and hope you will dine with us often.

Bart's, we look forward to many more years of your fantastic BBQ, onion rings, homemade Brunswick stew, and hushpuppies!

To learn more about Bart's, please visit them at:
5850 Ocean Highway West, Ocean Isle, NC. 910-287-7522.

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