Savoring Barbecue Saturday at Jon G’s Barbecue

If you’re a barbecue enthusiast looking for a unique experience, Jon G’s Barbecue in Peachland, NC, is a must-visit.

Nestled in western Anson County 40 miles southeast of uptown Charlotte, this out-of-the-way gem blends the rich traditions of Texas-style barbecue with the welcoming vibes of a tailgate party. And there’s only one way to immerse yourself in this delicious world: Barbecue Saturday at Jon G’s.

Here’s a glimpse into the experience and what you can expect, as well as the perspective collected during my visit in March.

Listen to the Low & Slow Barbecue Show episode with Jon G’s founders, Garren and Kelly Kirkman, for a closer look at the business, its background, and how it’s building community.

Master Blend Family Farms captured the Low & Slow Barbecue Show experience at Jon G’s with The Smoke Sheet and Barbecue Bros. Video and edit by Paul Byun

What is Jon G’s Barbecue?

Jon G’s Barbecue is a Texas-inspired restaurant at 116 Glen Falls Street in Peachland, NC. Open on-site Saturdays from 11 a.m. until sold out, Jon G’s is known for its menu of smoked meats and sides – all served in a market-style line.

Both the serving routine and the menu nod to Texas tradition. In fact, Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn says, “Jon G’s Barbecue … is where a Texan will feel most at home.”

“I don’t even want to put in Texas associated,” Garren says, “but I feel like I owe it to people. If they pull up, they see the place, they’re thinking they’re going to get a regular barbecue.”

“This is a more brisket-driven joint than your typical North Carolina barbecue joint,” he continues.

Outside the weekly Saturday operation, Jon G’s built its brand on its catering and food truck business. Contact Jon G’s to plan a catered event. Follow the Jon G’s Instagram page to find out where the food truck is coming next.

Garren Krikman with his turkey smokers outside Jon G's Barbecue in Peachland.
Garren “Jon G” Kirkman with his turkey smokers outside the Peachland business.

Jon G’s Barbecue Menu

Brisket and beef ribs lead the popularity list, but you can’t overlook the house-made sausage links, smoked turkey, or spare ribs. Want a sandwich or taco? Get one with pulled pork, brisket, or both in the Porky Brewster that adds Fritos, slaw, and pickled onions. Wrap it in a tortilla for the Porky B. Taco. Board specials vary week-to-week, offering another reason to visit and see what’s new.

Do not skip the sides. Mac & cheese, mayo-based coleslaw, brown sugar smoked beans, and jalapeno cheese grits all adhere to tradition yet exceed expectations. Outside-the-box options rotate, but you can’t go wrong with choices like brisket fried rice, street corn salad, tater tot casserole, and Lebanese-inspired batata salad, to name just a few.

Save room for dessert? Oreo dirt pudding, nutter butter pie, and other specialty concoctions appease your sweet tooth.

What is Barbecue Saturday?

Jon G's Barbecue meat tray prepared to order and shared among friends.
Our Jon G’s Barbecue customs selected included beef ribs, spare ribs, smoked turkey, brisket, sausages, pork belly burnt ends (white brisket), Porky B tacos, brisket friend rice, mac & cheese, cheese burger casserole, jalapeno grits, smoked beans and batata salad.

Barbecue Saturday is more than just a meal; it’s a full-day adventure that brings people together over a shared love for barbecue.

The Jon G’s party begins long before the doors open as barbecue fans line up hours early. An ice-filled cooler offers complimentary beers from NoDa Brewing Co. Folding chairs snake around the property. Quickly, the scene fills with camaraderie, anticipation, and the aroma of slow-cooked meat.

It started in 2020, a few months after the country faced COVID lockdowns.  

“We signed papers on our building in February 2020,” Kelly says. “We literally watched COVID unfold on the news, and North Carolina shut down.”

Brick-and-mortar expansion came after Jon and Kelly launched barbecue pop-ups throughout the Charlotte region in 2016. Initially, the plan was to make the Peachland building a commissary for the food truck and catering operation.

“And life changed, so we had to change with it,” Kelly continues. “There really was no plan. We just sent some prayers up and decided to do some pre-orders from our food trailer to see if people would be willing to drive out to the middle of nowhere. Luckily, they were.”

Barbecue Saturday was born, and so was the tailgate tradition.

“People would come out, and just kind of get to know each other,” Kelly says. “Then, as the years continued, that luckily grew, and people learned to love it. That’s something different than just a meal. It just became much more than barbecue.”

Breakfast for the Barbecue Wait

Because the line-up starts as early as 6:30 a.m. for an 11 a.m. opening, Jon G’s added breakfast accommodations: kolaches. Another Texas tradition, they have roots in the Czech savory finger food known as klobasneks.

“It’s not something you’re normally accustomed to here in North Carolina,” Garren says, hinting that the kolaches are a no-brainer for the waiting line. “You are here anyways, here’s some breakfast.”

The house-made pastry yeast rolls are stuffed with a variety of savory fillings: bacon popper, chicken bacon ranch, and sausage. Some have a sweet center with peach, apple, strawberry – even cookies and cream.

“We start serving them about 9:30 every Saturday morning, and there are some people that just drive up for kolaches,” Kelly says. “They’re not really there waiting on the food for lunch, but they’ve realized we start selling breakfast pastries at 9:30. They’ll show up just to get the kolaches.”

Jon G's Kolaches, one stuffed with a bacon cream cheese mix, one stuffed with sausage.
Breakfast at Jon G’s: one bacon popper kolache, one stuffed with Cheerwine sausage.

My Jon G’s Barbecue Experience

My Jon G’s experience started before dawn in Hickory, nearly 80 miles away. I aimed to arrive by 7:30 a.m. for a spot near the front of the line. About 20 people beat me there, including the line leaders who showed up at 6:30 a.m. after leaving Cullowhee three hours earlier.

With plans to reserve a spot for old friends Ronald Simmons from Master Blend Family Farms and new friends from The Smoke Sheet and Barbecue Bros, I parked my folding chair and prepared to wait. Soon, the crew arrived, the team from Heritage Blend fell into our fold, and our merry-making followed the tradition the Kirkmans hoped to establish. Over kolaches, coffee, Monk’s bloody Marys and Jon G’s signature NoDa beer, we became familiar and planned our attack on the food menu.

My Jon G’s Barbecue Crew, including new friends and old from Master Blend Family Farms, The Smoke Sheet and Barbecue Bros.

“Garren and I’ve met people in Texas barbecue lines that we still talk to today. We really formed a lifelong friendship with people, and I see that every Saturday,” Kelly says. “I think both of us want people to remember it because that’s going to create that experience that leads them to tell somebody else, and then they’re going to tell somebody else. Hopefully, they’ll come out and have that same experience.”

About an hour before opening, Kelly winds through the line, taking protein orders and estimating how the meat supply will fare against the hungry appetites. It’s not an exact science, but it helps people in line know what will be available by the time they get to the door. Beef ribs usually sell out first, and pulled pork is typically the last to go.

Service Line Starts at 11

Jon G's staff sliciinG brisket at the service line cutting board.
Kelly Kirkman, left, looks on as experienced hands slice a brisket.

When Jon G’s opens the doors there’s an air of excitement. The line starts to condense, collecting toward the front as the early arrivals pack away chairs and get ready to eat. Moving toward the door, conversations continue, now in closer proximity, but the going is slow. There’s a good reason.

“Service is everything, from the time people show up at Jon G’s in the morning on a Saturday until the time they walk out,” Kelly says. “It’s a full experience from morning until after you eat lunch. A lot of that is our staffing and our responsibility to create that experience for everybody that’s coming out to see us.

“Once they’re inside that market line we want everybody to feel like it’s their time to shine, because it is,” she continues. “You’ve waited all this time, and it’s really special. We don’t want you to feel rushed. We want you to feel like family.”

Although there’s been ample time to consider the menu, not everyone is comfortable stepping up to the counter and placing their order.

“It’s our responsibility to make them feel comfortable and welcomed into our establishment,” Kelly says. “Hopefully, we’re doing that.”

With a team that’s been around for a few years, the Jon G’s staff members are experts at serving, slicing, and explaining the menu items. At the cutting board, experienced hands slice and weigh meat for each order. Next, the sides are spooned into plastic containers or paper stock boats. Add sauce (though it’s not needed), your choice of Cheerwine or other beverage, and you’re headed to a seat with a platter covered in what’s filled your mind for hours – if not days.

Have a Seat, Eat, and Don’t Forget Take-Outs

Sure, you want to fill your belly with barbecue goodness, but while you’re at the serving line, do not forget to order take-outs. They go a long way toward smoothing over any hurt feelings for the folks you leave behind to spend a Saturday in a barbecue line. The brisket certainly served in that capacity with my family.

While the space inside Jon G’s isn’t huge, several booths and tables offer plenty of room to sit seat and eat. Out back, under shelters, more tables allow diners to gather and spread out. Don’t worry – there are plenty of seats to accommodate, and the pace of the line’s movement ensures that as folks finish their lunch they make room for the next party coming in. Be sure to take photos and share them on the Instagram feed to spread the Barbecue Saturday love – or just make your followers jealous for the joy you’ve experienced.

From my experience, I can tell you Barbecue Saturday at Jon G’s is best enjoyed among friends. Order in quantity, share a meal and give everybody a chance to split the bill and try everything on the menu. Besides, after filling up all the meats and sides, you’ll need to pass the Oreo dirt pudding around – you won’t finish it alone.

More than Barbecue

Beyond the incredible food and the experience, Jon G’s is deeply committed to giving back. Events like Jon G’s Jubilee celebrate good food and good times while supporting local charities like the Anson County Partnership for Children. It’s a testament to Garen and Kelly Kirkman’s dedication to their community and their desire to make a positive impact.

“Our customers are so amazing that they trust us enough to give us money to give to these charity events so that we can give back to the community we’re in,” Kelly says. Anson County is a pretty high-poverty county in North Carolina. Just to be able to give back to that community, it doesn’t have to be in the biggest way, but we’re proud to give back what we can.”

Plan Your Visit to Jon G’s Barbecue

Jon G's Barbecue in Peachland with the first people in line.
Jon G’s Barbecue in Peachland, NC, on a cold day in early March 2024.

Ready to experience Barbecue Saturday at Jon G’s?

Set your alarm early this Saturday, rally your barbecue-loving friends, and head to Jon G’s Barbecue. Your taste buds will thank you, and you’ll discover why this small-town barbecue joint is making big waves in the world of barbecue.

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