Buxton Hall's Closure Is Latest Blow for NC Whole Hog Barbecue
Plus Aaron Franklin pop-up in LA, Smoke Point visits with Sam Jones, an easy baby back ribs recipe, and much more
This week’s guest article is written by Monk, a native of North Carolina and co-founder of the Barbecue Bros blog. Along with his friends and fellow Barbecue Bros Speedy and Rudy, Monk has traveled around eating, rating, ranking, and reviewing barbecue joints since 2012. If you would like to write a guest article for The Smoke Sheet, please get in touch.
In late October, Asheville’s Buxton Hall Barbecue officially announced that it would close for good after service on November 22, eight years after bringing whole hog BBQ to Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood.
This closure comes roughly 15 months after Elliott Moss, who was instrumental in the creation and initial branding of Buxton Hall, abruptly left the restaurant as its pitmaster. Chef Nick Barr immediately took over as Executive Chef for Buxton Hall in July 2022.
Moss started the journey that became Buxton Hall Barbecue in 2013 in what was originally called "Buxton Hill Barbecue" (note the i), which promised to bring "All wood, Pit Smoked, Pastured Whole Hog Barbeque & Heirloom Southern Fare" to Asheville. It was originally announced as a partnership between Moss and well-known pitmaster Rodney Scott, which made sense when you consider that Moss has family roots in the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina, where Scott is also from.
However, that original concept was confirmed as not moving forward a few months later, in September 2013, via Twitter, with Moss starting to presumably work with the Chai Pani Restaurant Group on what would eventually become Buxton Hall Barbecue (note the a).
Buxton Hall finally opened in August 2015 to great acclaim, with Moss smoking local hogs from Vandele Farm in a North Carolina-made BQ Smoker situated in an open kitchen. In addition to whole hog, Moss’s influence was seen throughout the menu, whether it be chicken bog (a chicken and rice dish from Eastern South Carolina) or waffle fries (harkening back to his time working at a Chic-Fil-A.)
The restaurant was an instant success, and soon it was named a “Best New Restaurant” by Bon Appétit magazine. Moss wrote a successful barbecue book named Buxton Hall: Book of Smoke, which was released in October 2016. He continued to be the face of the restaurant, appearing at barbecue festivals nationwide under the Buxton Hall Barbecue banner.
The success continued until the food industry was hit by the COVID pandemic starting in March 2020, which began a period of challenges for the restaurant. The dining room was closed from March until July 2020 before a fire forced the restaurant to temporarily close and rethink its approach to smoking whole hogs indoors. It used the period to finish repairs and install new equipment, including a new Texas-style offset smoker designed and built by Moss. The dining room reopened over a year later. Less than a year later, Moss announced that he had left the restaurant in July 2022.