People and Places: Bunn’s Barbecue

People and Places

Bunn’s Barbecue has stood the test of time. Ten floods to be exact.

The restaurant remains a destination for not only people in Windsor, but barbecue lovers all over the East.      

“Oh, this is a Bertie County landmark,” said Russ Russell, co-owner of Bunn’s Barbecue. 

Folks have been coming in and out of the restaurant for 80 years.

“It’s a good place you can bump into somebody you haven’t seen in a long time,” said Randy Russell. 

But it’s the food, the eastern North Carolina barbecue specifically, that keeps them coming back for more.

“I tell you what, you can go all over North Carolina, and it’s hard to beat Bunn’s Barbecue across from the post office in Windsor, North Carolina,” said Jack Williford, a customer. 

Well before the post office opened, current day Bunn’s was a doctor’s office.

In the 1930’s, a man named Bunn Weathers had a different idea of what to do with the building. 

“It’s Bunn’s Barbecue because he moved here from Bunn, North Carolina,” said Randy Russell. “And the locals just named him Bunn. It stuck.”

“Mr. Bunn ran it; he and his wife ran it from 1938 until 1969,” said Russ Russell. “My family, the Russell family, has had it ever since then. And we run it just as much as we can like it was back then.”

“But as far as the taste and good barbecue, I’ll put ours up with anybody’s,” said Randy Russell. 

“And my dad’s famous line was, if it’s not broke don’t fix it,” said Russ Russell. “And I keep hearing it from everybody that it’s the best they’ve ever had. I said, well I can’t compare it because I don’t usually try anybody else’s barbecue.”

“They say they’ve tried these other places, but it’s nothing like ours,” said Randy Russell. “I let them make the call, you know.”

Jack Williford started coming to Bunn’s many years ago.

“My earliest memory was probably around seven or eight years old,” Williford said. “I’ve been coming here a long time. Bunn’s is the best barbecue that i know of.”

Unfortunately, there’s something else Bunn’s is known for.

“We’ve gone through some heartaches with floods,” said Russ Russell.

The floods are remembered with markings on the right side of the door, showing how high the water got.

The worst was Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

“It’s been ten,” said Randy Russell. “A lot of people don’t remember, you know. It’s been ten. But still we’ve had four that bad since 1999. They were such that it was in excess of five foot of water.”

The most recent flood came after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

“You’re always scared they’re not going to reopen,” said Williford. “They’ve had some thoughts about that i’m sure.”

Each time, all ten, Bunn’s eventually reopens. But not without the help of the community.
“If it wasn’t for the people coming down and offering help, giving you a little pat on the back and saying, ‘Look, y’all got to come back. You got to come back,” said Randy Russell. “That motivation right there is huge. All that motivation and support really helps you get through it. It really does.”
The customers are thankful, too. Thankful for a place that means so much to Bertie County.
“And I’m tickled pink they’re still in Windsor because they have been flooded many times,” said Williford.

“You’ve got people coming here 75, 80 years old that’s been coming here all their life,” said Randy Russell. “The expression on their face when they walk through that door, you can just see them. It just does something to them. Just to come back to a place they’ve always been. And you can’t replicate that.”

Bunn’s Barbecue will hold an 80th birthday party next Saturday, May 12, from six until nine.

The event will have live music and, of course, plenty of barbecue.

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