If you’re looking for a barbecue business for sale, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll give you a brief primer on regional barbecue styles, and describe the three important elements of barbecue that will help make your customers loyal and keep them coming back for more: Smoke, Sauce, and Sides.

Smoke it up

Barbecue: this slow approach to cooking meat dates back to the Caribbean in the 1500s. Even Christopher Columbus developed a method of slow-cooking meat over greenwood, which was called barbacoa (the origin of the word barbecue).

In the centuries that have followed, barbecue has become a staple in American cooking. Now, styles within our own country are as diverse as the regions that further developed them. Between the Carolinas alone, you’ll need two hands to count the different barbecue varieties.

Barbecue is a style of cooking that largely involves slow-cooking meat in a wide variety of delicious marinades and sauces. But it’s so much more than that, conjuring up images of summer: wooden picnic tables, red-and-white-checked tablecloths, and the smoky smell of mesquite, or other fine smoking woods. Its popularity means we serve it all year round now, not just in summer.

But history can only go so far to explain the pleasure that occurs when meat hits smoke (and sometimes sauce). Barbecue lovers looking to savor the distinct flavors of America’s four core barbecue styles aren’t alone; in fact, the siren call of the barbecue belt has caused many to make a pilgrimage to the region.

Regional Barbecue Styles

While there are several regional styles, the four main barbecue styles recognized by food editors are:

  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Kansas City

In most cases, the difference between the styles comes from the sauce, a source of great debate among barbecue connoisseurs. To help, we’ve broken down the different Southern regions that have defined barbecue in the United States, and what makes them each distinct.

North Carolina Barbecue

North Carolina has two different approaches: Eastern style and Lexington style (aka Piedmont style).

Eastern-style North Carolina barbecue is often considered to be one of the original approaches to barbecue. It involves basting the meat in a vinegar-based sauce enhanced with a little sugar and red pepper. This thin sauce is also served on the side of your barbecue meal for dipping purposes. But in Western North Carolina, they add a bit of tomato or ketchup into the mix.

South Carolina Barbecue

If variety is the spice of life, South Carolina is the spiciest when it comes to U.S. barbecue. The state is one of several that claim to be the “birthplace of barbecue,” and it has a whole host of different sauce options if you’re looking to change it up. Mustard, vinegar and pepper, light tomato, and heavy tomato sauces make up the South Carolina mix.

Texas Barbecue

In Texas, sauce is for the side, and beef brisket rules. Texas is all about the meat, so you’re not going to find layers of BBQ sauce cooked onto your ribs or brisket. They believe that the meat should do all the talking, and who are we to disagree? The sauce is best served on the side instead, and the great sauce debate in Texas is about “sauce or no sauce.” Period.

Kansas City Barbecue

In the early 1900s, Henry Perry opened a smoked-meat pushcart in downtown Kansas City, essentially starting a barbecue revolution that resulted in the city’s signature style. While Perry served such exotic offerings as raccoon and mutton, modern-day Kansas City-style barbecue can come in the form of beef, pork, chicken, or sausage—so long as it’s coated in a thick, sweet, molasses- and tomato-based sauce.

Whether your barbecue business cooks on a pit or uses a smoker, baste with a sauce, or dry rub with spices, we can all agree that barbecue, especially Southern barbecue, is delicious—no matter what way you slice or smother it.

Sauce it Up

Regardless of the region, customers have different likes when it comes to BBQ dressing. As the pitmaster of a barbecue business, you are supposed to strike a balance and develop a sauce mix that will keep your customers asking for more. In the barbecue business, the trick is to have a variety of BBQ sauces with different flavors so that your clients can make a choice.

Depending on the area in which you open your barbecue business, you’ll probably want to be sure to offer the popular regional choice of sauces, as well as a few others.

The Great Sauce Debate

The core of the barbecue sauce debate is simple: vinegar-based vs. tomato-based. It’s strictly a Southern squabble, the battle line starting with the vinegar crowd in eastern North Carolina. As you move west, tomatoes take over. And the closer you get to Texas, the sweeter and darker red the sauces get And you’ll always bump into personal favoritism:

“In SC, people usually want to start a fight about sauces. South Carolinians know it’s effectively a ginned-up quarrel about condiments. After all, why fight when you can eat?” –Jack Hicks, writer and Charleston native

Just when you think you’ve got it figured out for your own barbecue business, a new contender enters the scene. Would you believe there’s even a white BBQ sauce based not on ketchup or tomatoes, but mayonnaise?

It’s true. There is a rather famous white bbq sauce popular in the southern United States, and it’s called Alabama White BBQ Sauce. At many barbecue business joints across the South, white barbecue sauce is the sauce of choice. It’s typically a mayonnaise-based sauce, made tangy with the addition of vinegar, horseradish, and mustard. Fans of white sauce say that once you’ve doused your barbecued chicken in this sauce, you’ll never go back to red barbecue sauce. Most people like a little bit of both.

And of course, no sauce primer or debate would be complete without a mention of the popular ghost sauce, made with “the unrelenting heat of the ghost pepper.” If you’ve never tried a ghost pepper before, it is not for the faint of heart … or stomach. The ghost pepper, or Bhut Jolokia, is native to India and clocks in at an average of between 855,000 and 1,041,427 Scoville heat units. Thankfully, most barbecue businesses will prepare a milder variation of this fiery sauce.

Since you’re looking for a barbecue business, we feel it fair to point out that Edley’s Bar-B-Que has this sauce thing figured out. We prepare and cook with a line-up of sauces and rubs that take the best of the regional favorites and weave them into our menu items in a way that will satisfy everyone’s taste buds. In fact, our special lineup of sauces and rubs are even sold online:


  • Edley’s Bar-B-Que Sauce (traditional red BBQ sauce)
  • White BBQ
  • Rib Rub
  • Bar-B-Que Rub (It’s so good, we toss our fries in this!
  • Hot Chicken Rub (that’s Nashville Hot)


As always, no shortcuts are taken at Edley’s Bar-B-Que and it shows with the full-bodied flavors found in each sauce and rub. We’ve got the sauces figured out for a barbecue business.

Sidle Up to Some Sides

The final important element to a successful barbeque business that will keep customers coming back is the sides. This is another particular area where Edley’s Bar-B-Que shines. “We put just as much energy into our sides as we do our meat,” says Will Newman, founder of Edley’s Bar-B-Que. As mentioned in previous articles, Edley’s Bar-B-Que is a Meat Plus Three joint: you order your meat of choice and choose three sides. Sides are made from scratch daily, ranging from eight to ten sides offered each day. While they are all excellent, here are two that people write about:

“The banana pudding is a staple at Edley’s Bar-B-Que. Our guests view it as a must-have side rather than a dessert,” says Newman “The recipe calls for bananas, vanilla pudding, cookies, and a homemade whipped cream topping.” In fact, you can get the recipe here.

“To have a bite of banana pudding at Edley’s Bar-B-Que in Nashville is to begin a lifelong love affair.  – Fox40 Jackson

Another famous side Edley’s is known for is their cheese grits, called Wet Sand Casserole. Jim Gafferty, a popular comedian who compares grits to wet sand, was the impetus for the name, “We understand where you’re coming from,” Edley’s Bar-B-Que says in their video tribute to their wet sand casserole. “Wet sand is a way of life here in the south, so if you’re coming to visit from LA or Chicago, give our wet sand casserole a try. We’ll even put some brisket burnings on it. Ours is the best-wet sand money can buy,” the video states. (See the full video here.)

Why Edley’s Bar-B-Que Makes a Great Choice for a Barbecue Business

In summary, if you do a great job with your smoke, sauce, and sides, you have a solid start for a barbecue business of your own. And if you weren’t looking for a barbecue business for sale, you probably wouldn’t have read this far. There is one business that has it all figured out.

Edley’s Bar-B-Que offers an outstanding franchise opportunity for people like you, who have a passion for barbecue and a sincere desire to start your own barbecue business. You owe it to yourself to explore our enormously popular brand that attracts tourists and locals alike. Think of it – you could be the one who opens the next Edley’s in your own area. Click here for more information.