The fire and smoke will return to Wilber's Barbecue.
Closed for months following bankruptcy proceedings, Goldsboro's iconic whole hog restaurant appears to have been saved, as a deal to sell the restaurant to a new group of buyers was finalized this month in court.
Wilber's is now owned by Goldpit Partners, LLC, a group of investors looking to reopen the restaurant, keeping the name and barbecue tradition intact. In a news release sent by Goldpit's attorney Jeb Jeutter, Wilber's could reopen as early as next spring. The individuals behind Goldpit remain anonymous, but are characterized by Jeutter as having ties to Goldsboro and Eastern North Carolina.
"All parties involved in Goldpit are thrilled the sale of Wilber's has closed so it can continue its North Carolina tradition of serving the state's best barbecue," said Jeutter in a release. "Goldpit will now focus their attention on beginning restoration to the historic Wilber's building in the coming weeks with plans to resume operations and reopen in Spring 2020."
According to bankruptcy filings, Goldpit bought Wilber's for $350,000, a figure that largely covers the restaurant's debts. Wilber's was closed in March by the North Carolina Department of Revenue for unpaid taxes. It soon filed for bankruptcy, citing debts of $350,000 and assets of less than $100,000.
Wilber's is named for its longtime owner, Wilberdean Shirley, who opened it in 1962. Until its closing this year, it had survived as one of North Carolina's prized pits, known for carrying on the whole hog, wood-cooked traditions of Eastern North Carolina Barbecue, a style that's seen more closings in the past couple of decades than succession plans.
Goldpit's role as successor grants Wilber's the chance for a future in a new era of barbecue. North Carolina has mourned the loss of some of its historic restaurants in the past year, including Chapel Hill's Allen & Son, all while barbecue itself is embraced by a new generation.
In the Triangle, a number of new barbecue restaurants will be added in the next year, including Sam Jones BBQ and Longleaf Swine in Raleigh, Prime Barbecue in Knightdale, along with more recent Eastern North Carolina additions, such as Southern Smoke in Garland and the Redneck BBQ Lab in Benson.
The Wilber's sale was approved by the bankruptcy court in September, but was not finalized until Friday, Nov. 8, according to court filings.
The new owners behind Goldpit Partners will begin restoring Wilber's, they said in a release, and may cook at private events in the coming months, ahead of next year's anticipated spring opening.
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