A North Little Rock barbecue landmark with a customer base spanning generations and a location that's drawn traveling musicians and celebrities closed Friday, just one year shy of a century in business.
Customers have packed The White Pig Inn since the family-owned restaurant announced last month it would close after 99 years. Owner Greg Seaton Jr. said “it was time” and that the demands of owning two restaurants became too much.
A sign behind the counter read: “Thank you for being a part of our family for almost 100 years” as busy servers weaved around tables and about a dozen customers lined up to order Friday afternoon ahead of a 2 p.m. closure.
Seaton said multiple generations have passed through the establishment’s doors over the years and that there’s been a lot of sadness among customers.
After a year shy of a century, dozens of people had their final lunch at the White Pig Inn in North Little Rock before it closed this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/NrchzNgI1G— Youssef Rddad (@youssefrddad) March 8, 2019
Julie Killough of Searcy said she’s been eating at the White Pig for 70 years and that the restaurant's near-century run “speaks volumes about their barbecue.”
“I think it’s the best barbecue in the state. We love the sauce, the slaw and the fact that it’s chopped real fine,” said Killough’s husband, Larry, while recalling the White Pig being a mandatory stop for his family after football games at War Memorial Stadium.
For their last meal, the couple had chopped pork sandwiches with a Pepsi. They said they’ll miss the food the most.
People are willing to travel for good barbecue, and no two places are exactly the same, said Seaton’s father, Greg Seaton Sr. Because of that, he said restaurants become embedded in family traditions and are passed down through generations.
“This is personally what I grew up on as far as barbecue,” said Brett Todd of Little Rock after eating lunch. She added that her grandparents, as well as her husband’s grandparents, frequently ate there.
“It’s a landmark,” she said.
Located at 5231 E. Broadway, the eatery has attracted an array of visitors including touring musicians and celebrities over the years, Seaton Jr. said.
"If you were going from California to New York, you would pass by the White Pig," he said. "It had the potential to collect a lot of interesting people at times."
Seaton Jr. said he wasn't sure if Elvis ate there, but he said Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones “basically grew up in White Pig."
Seaton Jr. worked in the kitchen Friday, toasting buns and heaping generous portions of chopped pork onto them while serving up the eatery's “old-fashioned barbecue menu” to its last customers.
His grandfather bought the restaurant in the 1940s, and the establishment passed to his father and eventually him.
The establishment moved from across the street in the ‘80s where it was a drive-up with a tiny seating area inside.
Seaton Jr. said he remembers staring out the screen door as a teen "wishing that I was somewhere else." But he said he quickly realized he would be taking over the business at some point.
He said he's grateful to have worked with his father and grandfather at the same time.
"I'm fortunate to have been able to do that. It's very family oriented," he said adding that nearly everyone has had to chip in around the restaurant in some way.
Restaurant staff were offered jobs at Seaton's other restaurant, Seaton's Scott Place, a few miles away in Scott.
He said he’s still serving up many of his family’s recipes, including the barbecue sauce, slaw and potato salad that have been staples since the 1940s.