Local restaurant owner continues father's legacy

Local restaurant owner continues father's legacy

Archibald's BBQ has been a Tuscaloosa staple since opening in 1961. /CW | Pete Pajor

Archibald said his father, George Archibald Sr., opened Archibald’s Bar-B-Q in 1961. Archibald Sr. also operated a small general store along with the restaurant.

Archibald grew up in the house next to the restaurant, and he inherited the restaurant from his father. The house he grew up in still stands.

“It’s good working with family,” ?Archibald said.

While barbecue restaurants like Dreamland or Jim N’ Nicks spend thousands of dollars on marketing every year, Archibald’s Drive Inn doesn’t have the business resources of these larger, franchised restaurants. Despite lacking the wide footprint of his competitors, Archibald has a simple explanation for his success.

“My father always said, ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,’” Archibald said. “Never change.”

In the city of Tuscaloosa, Archibald’s remains an icon. In the time that Archibald started working in his father’s restaurant, Bear Bryant won his first national championship, George Wallace gave his famous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” speech, The University of Alabama was integrated, an EF4 tornado ravaged Tuscaloosa and Nick Saban won three ?national championships.

Throughout the years, George Archibald remains a constant.

“I’m under the grandpa clause – they can’t make me change,” Archibald said.

The “grandpa clause” includes Archibald’s meat – he doesn’t spice or season it.

Instead of seasoning, Archibald lets the smoldering hickory wood cook his ribs and pork shoulder to perfection. To properly season a pit takes about three months, and the current pit is the restaurant’s third. Archibald said there’s no other pit like it in the state.

Archibald’s Drive Inn can be difficult to find on the first visit.

The restaurant, a simple white cinder block building, located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Northport, has nothing but a wooden sign to distinguish it from its surroundings. Daniel Sellers, a 2014 UA graduate who majored in economics and finance, said its design is what makes Archibald’s special.

“It’s just so old timey and old South, and it’s nostalgic in my opinion,” Sellers said. “It’s reminiscent of a better time. I don’t like the excessive commercialism in today’s restaurant industry. I prefer going and eating at locally or privately owned mom and pop eating establishments.”

It is uncertain how many more years George Archibald will continue to work at Archibald’s Drive Inn. However, it is certain that the ?restaurant will stay in the family.

Archibald plans to leave the restaurant in the hands of his nephew, Woodrow. Woodrow already owns two restaurants of his own and will carry on the family tradition where it began.

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