A barbecue restaurant in Clinton has shut its doors — possibly for good — amid financial woes after nearly 70 years of serving the community.
Lewis’ Barbecue, located on Hobbton Highway at the northern edge of Clinton, closed last week, with owners citing “financial difficulties.” The restaurant, established seven decades ago by Rooster and Doris Lewis, was a popular spot, proven by its seven decades in the community and local awards for its barbecue, hush puppies and cole slaw.
It has been operated for years by Rooster and Doris’ son Jimmie.
A large note was posted inside the front window of the business in the days leading up to its closure. On Thursday, the sign still hung inside the now defunct eatery.
“Due to financial difficulties, 9/2/2017 will be our last day of business. This has now been put in God’s hands, and if it is His will, we will reopen. Thank you for your business, it has been a pleasure to serve you since 1948. Please keep us in your prayers in hopes that we will be able to served you once again soon!”
The note is signed “Lewis’ BBQ family and staff.”
A search of Sampson County tax records showed unpaid tax bills dating back to 2013 for the Hobbton Highway property where Lewis’ Barbecue sits. Doris Jordan Lewis is listed as the property owner.
The annual tax bills from 2013-17 range from $2,267.40 to $2,378. Interest has been tacked onto each of the bills, with the exception of this year’s statement. All told, there is $13,760.79 in tax owed, of which approximately $2,000 is interest fees. The due date for the latest 2017 tax bill was last Friday, the day before the business was closed.
Attempts to reach Jimmie Lewis for comment were unsuccessful.
Lewis did leave an outgoing phone message for those still calling up the business. Holding back emotion and his voice cracking, Lewis expressed his thanks for the support over the years and his hope that it wouldn’t be the end of the road.
“You’ve reached Lewis’ BBQ,” Jimmie says, “At this time, we have closed down as of Saturday. We’re hoping to return, but due to financial situations, we will have to keep our doors locked until whatever takes place. If you would, keep us in your prayers and if it’s God’s will, we will return. Thank you for all the years you have given us business and we’ll miss all of you. Amen.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.