Making the Grade: Chuck’s Bar-B-Que

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PHOTOS BY MIKE WALLACE

By Stacey Patton Wallace

3:42 a.m. central time … an incredibly early hour to be awakened by the insistent blaring of an alarm clock. However, for four years, three months and two weeks (Nov. 30, 2015, through March 13, 2020), Mike and I woke up at that time, got ready and went to teach at Long Cane Middle School in LaGrange, Georgia, until COVID-19 shut us down for the rest of the school year. While on standard time, we left home in the dark and often came home in the dark.

Also, we mistakenly thought that we would be about the only people traveling on I-85 north at 5:45 a.m. central time. Wrong. Apparently, many people commute to work early in the morning.

However, I was very fortunate because, as I’ve mentioned before, Mike doesn’t like my driving, so he did the honors, which allowed me to catch a 40-minute nap going to school and coming back home.

Now, as I’ve mentioned MANY times before, Mike and I LOVE living in Lee County and feel sorry for those who don’t. However, working on eastern time was really rough. By Friday afternoon, we were completely wiped out mentally and physically. Therefore, we were in no mood to cook supper.

The solution to our problem? Chuck’s Bar-B-Que located at 905 Short Ave. in Opelika. When we moved to Auburn in November 2015, we heard of Chuck’s and decided to give the restaurant a try. As a result, Chuck’s Bar-B-Que quickly became habit forming for the Wallaces.

On many Friday afternoons while Mike was driving down I-85 south, I would be calling Chuck’s for takeout as soon as we reached Cusseta. I called so often that the employees recognized my voice. And let me say, we love the employees at Chuck’s; they are really sweet and helpful.

Mike would turn off at exit 62, and we’d pick up our supper at about 3:30 p.m. central. I know that sounds early for supper, but our stomachs lived on eastern time, so it was 4:30 p.m. to us. Also, as a sixth grade teacher, I ate lunch at about 9:50 a.m. central; we called it brunch. Mike usually didn’t eat lunch at all, so by 3:30 p.m., we were hungry enough to gnaw on a table leg.

When we arrived home, we attacked our delicious food with relish. Then, full and weary, we’d pass out in our side-by-side La-Z-Boy recliners, the best chairs in the world.

A few hours later, we’d wake up and get ready for bed. Although Mike and I both love to read, we’d manage only a few pages before we gave in to exhaustion.

However, now that we’re retired, we can read several chapters a night before we get sleepy. Also, we can enjoy Chuck’s Bar-B-Que without traveling on I-85.

Recently, we picked up to-go orders from Chuck’s. Mike chose his usual: the chipped barbecue sandwich all the way with a bag of chips. I ordered the barbecue chicken platter (Remember, I’m a chicken freak.) with a large order of fries and a small Brunswick stew. As always, our food was wonderful. Some things never change; I’m sure glad that Chuck’s Bar-B-Que is one of them.

Besides our terrific meals, Chuck’s also offers pork and rib plates, taters, wraps and salads. Other side items include: baked beans, Bbq slaw and coleslaw. Run and do not walk to Chuck’s.

In addition to preparing great meals for Mike and me, Chuck’s Bar-B-Que has been smoking mouth-watering Thanksgiving turkeys for us since 2018, when Mike and I began hosting the holiday. Cooking Mama’s amazing dressing (with her supervision, of course) and pecan pie is about all I can handle. Therefore, I gladly let Chuck’s smoke our turkeys. So next year, give Chuck’s a try for Thanksgiving; however, order by mid-October because they sell out fast. When you eat a turkey from Chuck’s, you’ll understand why.

Chuck’s Bar-B-Que is closed on Sunday. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, Jody Escoe, the owner of Chuck’s since December 2008, said that like many businesses these days, closing times could vary because of a staffing shortage. It would be a good idea to call 334-749-4043 to check. Believe me, you will be glad you did.

Chuck’s Bar-B-Cue makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember, “Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!

Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear each week in the Observer. Stacey may be reached at retiredlangartsteacher2020@gmail.com

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