|The truth is, Bill's Barbecue wasn't good enough to compete in Richmond's barbecue scene.|
I nearly did a spit take at work today when I glanced at the Richmond Times Dispatch at lunch. I had to wait until I got home to write about what I'd read.
Mitt Romney has an internet ad up claiming that Barack Obama is somehow responsible for the closure of the Bill's Barbecue chain in Richmond, Virginia in September of this year.
Before heading to Caroline County Romney stopped by Bill's Barbecue, a longtime Richmond business that has closed. This morning Romney's campaign released a web video in which it tied the closure of the business to the economy under the president.Funny thing is, back in September, that's not at all what the owners of Bill's Barbecue said. Here's what was said back in September 2012:
"They used to have quite a few restaurants as many as 200 employees," Romney said in Caroline.
"The owner of Bill's told me she would close her doors" because of taxes, regulations and "Obamacare" he said.
Bill’s Barbecue will shut down its remaining three restaurants Sunday after more than eight decades of serving Richmond-area customers.The key phrase in that passage is "market changes and the high cost of upgrading operations." Oh, and Mitt Romney didn't mention Bill's many health code violations.
The eatery, a dining institution here since 1931, is closing its final locations about five months after shutting down five others, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon by Robert A. Canfield, a Henrico County-based bankruptcy and business attorney.
The statement said the economy during the past five years, market changes and the high cost of upgrading operations made it too difficult for the company to continue.
The simple fact of the matter is that Bill's Barbecue's food was only barely decent. I mean, I'd eat there in a pinch if I was hungry and had no other choice, but believe me, Richmonders have a choice.
Back in 1992 two guys named Buz and Ned opened "Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue" on Richmond's Boulevard between two Bill's Barbecue locations about a mile apart. Buz and Ned's was part of a new wave of interest in barbecue, not as fast food, but as an American cuisine demanding skill and commitment to execute properly. Since then, Buz and Ned have been joined by several other high quality barbecue restaurants such as Halligan's, Alamo BBQ, Extra Billy's, TD's Smokehouse, Q Barbecue, and several others. All of these barbecue establishments compete for and win barbecue awards at barbecue festivals and contests. Bill's Barbecue wouldn't think of entering these contests--it would be like McDonald's entering a contest for best steakhouse: it would have been comical.
The truth about the closing of Bill's Barbecue is that Richmond's barbecue scene dramatically improved in recent years. The competition got a lot better, and Bill's Barbecue was unable or unwilling to improve its product. The free market did the rest, as customers flocked to high-quality, authentic barbecue outlets and avoided Bill's Barbecue. By 2012, Bill's Barbecue had become the buggy whip factory of Richmond's barbecue scene, and it was long past time to close the chain down.