When it comes to food, the town of Ayden is known for its barbecue and its collards, and there’s one particular spot in the heart of downtown Ayden that keeps drawing folks in: Bum’s Restaurant.
“It’s the best barbecue in the world right here,” said Jim Barwick, Bum’s patron. “A true barbecue lover loves this.”
Latham “Bum” Dennis is the namesake of this place.
“I just love it,” Bum said. “Just love it. It’s just a way of life for us. That’s what we’ve always done.”
To this day, Bum’s barbecue is cooked over wood, which, according to him, is the way it should be.
“He did everything for 45 years,” said Shirley Dennis. “He cooked breakfast. He cooked barbecue.”
But there came a day when the day-to-day operations were passed down.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Larry Dennis. “I am living the dream.”
Bum’s son Larry is the Dennis you’ll see here most often these days.
“It’s the only thing I’ve ever done,” said Larry Dennis “I started when I was nine. Forty-five years ago.”
“My son had helped me until my wife got sick,” said Bum. “And I told him that was going to Durham with to have an operation and that if he got overwhelmed to just lock the door and go home. We’d start over when I come back. He’s done fine. Up until then he helped me. Now I help him.”
“Well, he comes in at lunch,” said Larry Dennis. “Makes sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Somebody’s got to do it. It takes him and my wife and my momma to keep an eye on me.”
Some customers get barbecue, while others get boiled ham. They served stewed beef, chicken pastry and more.
“The barbecue is number one, but I like the fried chicken,” said Barwick. “You can’t beat the fried chicken.”
Jim Barwick started eating at Bum’s 40 years ago.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “Best place in North Carolina to eat…Country cooking. And then the fellowship. You know you see people from all walks of life in here.”
Bum’s also serves something you may not find at other barbecue spots but Ayden is famous for: collard greens.
“That’s right,” said Larry Dennis. “I’m the only one that does that.”
“Because I’m the best and everyone else is scared,” said Larry Dennis. “…It’s that simple.”
Maybe it’s not that simple. But whatever they’re doing at Bum’s seems to be working.
“Kids have always been here,” said Bum. “The kids grew up here, the grandchildren and now the little great ones are coming along. We’re all right here working.”
“Yeah, we have a good time,” said Larry Dennis. “That’s all I know. We do. My parents, my family, my wife. This is a dream come true. This is a great job.”