Last month the West Ashley-James Island Business Association (WAJIBA) held its first meeting of 2016 and welcomed City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg as the guest speaker. About 120 people turned out to hear what the newly-elected mayor, and West Ashley resident, had to say about the future of our part of town.
This month, WAJIBA is offering another interesting program but one that also couldn’t be more different. However, it’s certainly an issue that has an impact on our local economy and our quality of life. At 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24, WAJIBA will host a panel discussion entitled The Business of Barbecue, featuring some of the biggest names in the local barbecue scene.
Sponsored by West Of, the meeting will take place at Bessinger’s Barbecue at 1602 Savannah Hwy., an historic spot for barbecue in our state. Still called Piggy Park by many in West Ashley, Bessinger’s is important in the story of barbecue in South Carolina. A story that will be told by Lake E. High Jr., co-founder and president of the South Carolina Barbecue Association, who will begin the meeting with a brief history of Barbecue in South Carolina.
High literally wrote the book on Barbecue. Before the panel discussion begins, High will explain how barbecue in South Carolina predates the rest of America. Native Americans barbequed pork on makeshift grills as far back as the 1500s, after the Spanish introduced the pig into the Americas. Since the early 1920s, South Carolinians have been perfecting the craft and producing some of the best-tastin’ ‘que in the country.
Some of the people responsible for South Carolina’s famous barbecue will then participate in a panel discussion on how the business of barbecue has evolved over the years and it’s impact on the local economy. Also, there are few things in the South more hotly contested than barbecue, so it will be interesting to hear the professional perspective from some of South Carolina’s top pitmasters.
Panelists include Aaron Siegel, owner of Home Team BBQ on Ashley River Road, Anthony DiBernardo, owner of Swig & Swine on Savannah Highway, Michael Bessinger of Bessinger’s Barbecue on Savannah Highway, Rick Agius of Smoky Oak Taproom on James Island, and Tank Jackson of Holy City Hogs, a heritage farm based in Wadmalaw Island that raises some of the finest pigs in the country.
Each panelist brings a unique and different perspective to an industry that continues to grow. Next month, Home Team will open it’s third location in the Charleston area downtown. Swig & Swine is preparing to open a Summerville location, Smoky Oak recently opened a second location in Florence,  and Bessinger’s has been doing their thing for more than 75 years now. Holy City Hogs provides Ossabaw, Mangalitsa, and Wadmahogs to some of the finest restaurants in Charleston, including The Ordinary, FIG, The Grocery, The Lot, 492 King, Fat Hen, Cypress, and The Park Café.
WAJIBA hosts The Business of Barbecue at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at the buffet side of Bessinger’s Barbecue, located at 1602 Savannah Hwy. Admission is $10 for WAJIBA members and $20 for nonmembers and includes a buffet lunch and a drink. For more information, email

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