Loyal fans restore, reopen Wilber's Barbecue in Goldsboro
Posted July 15, 2020 11:53 a.m. EDT
Updated July 17, 2020 5:51 p.m. EDT
Goldsboro, N.C. — A beloved restaurant, Wilber's Barbecue, has reopened in Goldsboro more than a year after it was shut down by the state Department of Revenue.
Wilber's, which first opened in 1962, was shut down in March 2019 for nonpayment of taxes. When it closed, regular customer and Goldsboro native Willis Underwood got together with other loyal Wilber's fans to form Goldpit Partners and restore the restaurant to its glory days.
At first, the restaurant will be open for curbside pick-up only, and it will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Underwood said he hopes to expand hours and open the dining room soon.
“As soon as safely possible, we look forward to fully opening and welcoming customers inside," he said.
Wilber Shirley and Carl Lyerly purchased Hill's Barbecue from Fred Hill in 1962 and renamed it Hwy. 70 Barbecue. Within a year, Lyerly sold his share in the business to Shirley, who changed the name to Wilber's Barbecue.
Although Wilber's has been renovated and revamped in the year it was closed, customers should recognize Shirley's old-fashioned, whole hog barbecue and the decorations they know and love, Underwood said.
Even old cooks and staff members are part of the revamped Wilber's, including Shirley's son-in-law.
Shirley, who is about to turn 90, commented on the reopening, saying, "Our method of cooking whole hogs over hardwood coals overnight is not easy or cheap, but it is the right way, and something we as a community take a lot of pride in."
“This place, this food and this style of cooking is part of who we are as a community, a region and a culture, and it will continue to be,” said Underwood. "This has been a labor of love, and an opportunity to save this legendary institution that lives large in all of our memories."
Wilber's was a 2015 WRAL.com Voter's Choice Award finalist for best Eastern N.C. barbecue.
The restaurant has served many dignitaries, including Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Govs. Jim Hunt and Terry Sanford and U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.