Local News

Raleigh BBQ joint thumbs its nose at NC's coronavirus rules

Posted June 22, 2020 4:49 p.m. EDT
Updated June 22, 2020 6:16 p.m. EDT

— A barbecue restaurant in Raleigh refuses to adhere to restrictions put in place by state officials to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“There is no Goober Cooper government mandated social distancing at Big Al’s, feel Free to eat wherever you like,” reads a sign posted on the front door of Big Al's BBQ, near the intersection of Louisburg and Forestville roads in northeast Raleigh.

According to state regulations issued last month, when restaurants were allowed to resume dine-in service as part of Phase 2 of the state's response plan during the pandemic, North Carolina restaurants must keep the number of customers at 50 percent of allowed capacity and keep patrons at tables spaced 6 feet apart.

Wake County health officials said they have alerted Raleigh police to the situation at Big Al’s.

"Our food inspectors educate restaurants about best health and safety practices, including mask wearing, sanitation and social distancing. They are not responsible for enforcing laws or mandates," county officials said in a statement.

Officials at Big Al’s declined to comment.

Big Al's notice

"I think masks are a huge thing, and I also think social distancing just in general is the bare minimum of what we can do right now," said Rebekah Escala, who lives nearby. "For restaurants, I think keeping 6 feet apart, that’s something they should be doing."

Big Al's customer Joseph Hicks said he doesn't mind the lack of social distancing while eating.

"I appreciate when they’re upfront and honest about where they’re coming from and honest with their customers," Hicks said. "I would probably wait my turn outside if I had to, but I mean, it’s worth it."

Crowding at restaurants near downtown Raleigh on recent weekends prompted Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin to require people to cover their faces in public during the pandemic.