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Holy Smoke ranks as one of four finalists in statewide competition

Four of the best places in the state to eat pulled pork have been smoked out, and one of them is Hartselle’s own Holy Smoke BBQ.  

Bama’s Best Pulled Pork competition is held by the Alabama Pork Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation. Alabama Farmers Federation Pork Division Director Russ Durrance said he was amazed by fan participation in the competition, in which more than 2,000 votes were cast via Facebook, with more than 100 restaurants vying to claim the Bama’s Best Pulled Pork title. 

“As Alabama recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s encouraging to see communities rally around their local restaurants and the folks who run them,” Durrance said. “We not only want to promote good-tasting barbecue through Bama’s Best Pulled Pork, we want to support the pitmasters who work every day to serve up tasty dishes.” 

Holy Smoke moved to Hartselle from the Jones Chapel area of Cullman seven years ago. Junior Hyatt started his adventure in barbecue with a homemade smoker he built on an old boat trailer. He began selling barbecue from that trailer, food truck style, and in 2013 he opened a location in south Hartselle.  

Earlier this year, the restaurant relocated to its current building at 900 Highway 31 NW.  

Hyatt said he started the restaurant to give him more time with his family, and today it continues to be a family affair. His sons, Brad and Bart, and Bart’s wife, Jackie, now run the restaurant. The baked beans and slaw recipes were passed down from their grandmothers, and everything about the restaurant is an expression of their love of that heritage. While the new location does have the drive-up window, the Hyatts stress their barbecue is not fast food – it’s good food. 

Brad said his family feels incredibly lucky to be able to do a job they love – and to be able to do it with the people who mean the most to them. He added the honor of making it to the final four in the statewide competition was a surprise to him and his staff.  

Holy Smoke will be pitted against Heard’s BBQ in Maplesville in Chilton County, JJ’s BBQ in Elba in Coffee County and The Pink Pig in Moulton in Lawrence County.  

Judges will visit the Bama’s Best Pulled Pork Final Four next month, where they will sample menu items and talk shop with restaurant owners and cooks. Judges include Durrance, pig farmer Daniel Tubbs of Walker County and Simply Southern TV host Mary Wilson.

The Bama’s Best Pulled Pork winner receives a cash prize, plaque, feature story in Neighbors magazine and bragging rights. 

Constance Smith contributed to this story.