Their lease was up in June, and it was conclusion time. Right after 4 many years in South Huntsville, ChuckWagon BBQ co-owner Stephen Holley elected to shut that location. Their very last working day open was July 2. ChuckWagon’s flagship Madison restaurant remains open up.

Holley chalks up the SoHu closure to “the COVID hangover.” He states, “I don’t know how else to put it. We’ve viewed a very major lessen in site visitors, and a good deal of individuals are teleworking now. That kind of altered the dynamics of that spot for us, with lunches becoming a minor slower than they employed to be. And lease goes up each individual yr. We made a decision to contact it quits and slice our overhead.”

Current financial inflation triggering many persons to tighten their residence budgets was also a element. “The initial point everyone cuts out is food and entertainment,” Holley claims.


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Staffing was also “a big situation,” in accordance to Holley, as it has with many dining places these days. “We’ve had two or a few actually very good types that actually went all the way by way of it with us. But as far as getting new folks that ended up any kind of top quality, we just could not come across them.”

Holley is not accurately absolutely sure why discovering and retaining good quality workers is these a difficulty in the provider field now. But he has a pair theories. A person, he thinks some eating places that slash staff for the duration of the pandemic “handled it improper and in all probability weakened our credibility a very little little bit as a cafe industry.” And two, there are numerous much more employment possibilities now in a growing city like Huntsville, which is now Alabama’s most populous. “There are just so a lot of work shifting into the region that are bigger-shelling out jobs,” Holley suggests.

Pre-pandemic ChuckWagon Southside employed all around a staff members of close to 10. The past yr, that range was down to just a few. Holley suggests Southside employees were being presented a two-week discover right before asserting the impending closure on the restaurant’s Fb page.

Workers had been supplied the option to function at the Madison spot, in accordance to Holley. But that travel, about 35 minutes from the Southside place, was just far too extensive for them they said. Primarily with fuel charges what they’ve been currently.

He suggests the Southside personnel have all discovered other work or, in the scenario of some youthful workers, located internships. “Everybody’s taken care of,” he says. Considering that closing, ChuckWagon has also provided hrs to these who needed to support breakdown the devices and get the cafe ready to shift out of its Southside area, which was in the Redstone Ridge strip mall, address 11700 Memorial Pkwy. S.W., behind a Chick-fil-A.

ChuckWagon BBQ

ChuckWagon BBQ’s Southwest mac and cheese. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

ChuckWagon closing is a blow to nearby barbecue enthusiasts. It was quickly a single of the city’s very best barbecue joints. The Texas-model brisket, pork ribs, sausage and pulled rooster were aces. The sides, notably the smoky Southwest mac-and-cheese and confetti-colored vinegar slaw, have been rad also. ChuckWagon’s closing leaves Boarhog’s Barbecue as the apparent numero-uno for Huntsville ’cue now.

My spouse and children often bought takeout from ChuckWagon Southside. My sweet magnificent mother in distinct was a major lover. She was crestfallen just after I instructed her they were being closing. She designed absolutely sure to go by their past working day open up to get some pulled pork, chicken and fixings for our July 4 household get-collectively.

ChuckWagon’s closure is a key bummer for South Huntsville’s dining scene. While that functioning course section of the city is residence to a number of mom-and-pop gems, these are vastly less than what’s readily available downtown, the health-related district or West Huntsville. Hearth & Spice Tex-Mex Smokehouse and Blue Plate Diner, a couple other SoHu standouts, have also been pandemic-period casualties.

Holley and wife Kat Holley, who managed ChuckWagon Southside, are previously lacking their previous regulars, he claims. “During these 4 decades or so we made pals that we’re still gonna push more than there to see and discuss to. We’re considerably heading to overlook our client foundation. They had been great. We experienced a number of via the pandemic they would just demonstrate up and be like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna assist you guys by this issue.’ They were entirely dependable for our survival.”

The inside of ChuckWagon Southside associated a cowboy motif. ChuckWagon’s to start with Madison Boulevard spot took that vibe all the way. Founder, co-proprietor and Holley’s father Mike Holley would operate on the line, slicing up pulled pork, ribs, chicken and sausage to buy in front of prospects. Carrying a cowboy hat and brandishing a significant knife, the patriarch evoked a Marlboro Guy who smoked meat alternatively of cigs.

Wagon wheel chandeliers and saddle lamps had been also involved at that charmingly rustic place. Initially timers in require of a landmark could look for the massive-white letters “BBQ” on the restaurant’s purple roof, evidently obvious on method from Wall Triana Freeway quickly just after exiting I-565.

ChuckWagon BBQ

ChuckWagon BBQ operator Mike Holley. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

ChuckWagon opened in Madison in early 2008. A few years before, Mike Holley, a West Texas native who previously labored in oil fields as a petroleum engineer, to start with launched his restaurant in Athens, Alabama.

ChuckWagon closed their Madison Boulevard site in January 2019, due to a disagreement among ChuckWagon and the owner they leased the building from, over which party must fork out for a litany of repairs together with roof leak, weather handle concerns, and floor hurt brought on by a tree root growing underneath.

Amid early COVID-era troubles, it took them about 18 months to open up their new Madison place, at 8048 Hwy. 72. Which is about a 14-moment push from the prior area. This more lately manufactured, brick-making was previously house to a pizzeria.

Whilst Mike Holley does not do the job the line as a lot as he employed to, he’s however retaining busy. He’s guiding the start of a soon-to-open up ChuckWagon in Rogersville in close proximity to the Elk River.

And Huntsville barbecue enthusiasts can just take solace in the point Stephen Holley states ChuckWagon is eyeing a further Huntsville area. A thing “more central,” Stephen states. Until eventually then, he stresses the Madison flagship, “isn’t going any where. And I know it is a travel, but appear see us.”

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