Island Issues

Amelia Island Enjoying A BBQ Bonanza

Amelia Island Enjoying A BBQ Bonanza

BBQ joints are popping up on Amelia Island faster than Bill Clinton could pencil in “Monica” on his “To Do” list every morning.

The latest island addition is Michael Stringer’s State Line Barbeque, which opened just this week next to Flash Foods at the intersection of Will Hardee and Sadler Road, across from the Post Office. It’s take-out only that specializes in oinkers, no beef anywhere in sight in Mike’s place, no siree Bob, this is a deep south road-side BBQ hole-in-the-wall. “This isn’t Texas,” he politely and firmly explained to me when I asked about brisket.

Mike’s as serious as a funeral about his ‘cue and his place is powered with a smoker he had custom made in Green Cove Springs from a company called Mack Daddy Smoker and he’s got stacks of cherry wood to fuel it.

The laid back Atlanta native, who worked in the chemical marketing business for some 40 years and has lived here for the last 15, has prices and sides that will have my south Georgia cracker pal Eugene Lamar and his wife, Jolene, racing south across the state line to load up more than once a week.

His pulled pork sandwich goes for just $8.75 and for that price you get two (count ’em TWO) sandwiches, with the pork pulled when you order. St. Louis-style pork ribs are $8.75 for three bones, $16.00 for 1/2 slab and $24 for a full slab. There’s a family recipe Brunswick stew for just $2.75 and cole slaw, potato salad and baked beans (made papa’s way with chopped pork, bacon and onion) all for just $2.75. Mike’s open Monday through Saturday starting at 10 a.m. and closes around 7 p.m. or when he runs out of pigs.

If someone comes in and wants beef or a burger Mike will politely point them in the direction of the Krystal that sits on the opposite corner of Will Hardee and Sadler.

The actual address is 2020 Sadler Road but you can call ’em at 770/335-4476 and then call me if you’re having a party serving from Mike’s menu.

Not too long ago the only places on the island to find barbeque were downtown Fernandina Beach’s 7 South 3rd Street’s Happy Tomato Cafe & BBQ and more recently Gilbert’s on South 8th. No more.

The personable Richard Bolton has been providing residents and tourists with barbeque turkey, pork, ribs and chicken in his cozy downtown Happy Tomato courtyard since September 2007. He opens the doors at 11 a.m. and is usually closed by 4:30 Monday through Saturday. His always crowded restaurant is testimony that Richard knows his way around a smoker. I know because I’ve had him cater a function at my home that resulted in better reviews for his food than my hospitality. I mean how many folks show up at a private party and tell the host “We can’t stay but do you have a take-out box?” Call ’em at 904/321-0707.

Kenny Gilbert started out with a more sophisticated southern menu in his 510 South 8th Street Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen, but as time passed more and more smokers sprouted in the front parking lot and his menu began listing fewer collard green and chitin soups and peanut butter and grits casseroles to focus almost exclusively on barbeque and appropriate sides. Call ’em at 904/310-6374.

In just the last 30 days or so a couple more BBQ joints have been added to the mix.

Less than a month ago Island BBQ opened at 1925 South 14th Street Island BBQ featuring expert Pit Master Rodney Stubbs who makes the best beef brisket this side of the Mississippi River. The Island BBQ crew also features pork, ribs, turkey, and chicken and the traditional sides of baked beans, okra, mac & cheese, and more. They’re open every day 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will soon have a license to sell beer and wine in their 30 seat establishment. Call ’em at 904/624-7811.

Even Lorenzo Church, who manages the South 8th Street’s Halftime Sports Bar & Grill got in the act. A smoker can often be seen sitting in front of that sports emporium containing Mr. Church’s handiwork of slow smoked ribs and pork. Earlier this week he had a July 4 special that included a full rack of ribs for $19.99, a half rack for 12.99 and a rib sandwich and one side for $10. The ribs were fall off the bone tender. Call Lorenzo at 904/432-8129.

Off the island there is no better barbeque than Willie Jewel’s, particularly the slow cooked tender, moist and fragrant beef brisket, with bottles of tasty spicy red Texas-style BBQ sauce within easy reach. Located in Yulee at the intersection of State Road 200 and Highway 17 they also serve ribs, pork, chicken, turkey dinners, sandwiches and by the pound. Call ’em 904/ 849-1298.

The only thing missing in this barbecue mix is a waitress named Dixie, ice-cold bottles of orange and grape Nehi, and a pit master named Bubba with a toothpick dangling out the side of his mouth.

Now that we’ve reached the island’s quota of barbecue joints when are we going to see some smoked mullet places? Just wondering.


Is There A Doctor In The House? Ooops, Never Mind: I ran into Dr. Ronald “Chip” Ross this past Saturday evening at PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden where he “thanked” me for writing about him last Friday, saying: “You earned me at least 20 votes” while adding “better people have written worse things about me in the past.” This comes on the heels of my critical comments last week about his and Commissioner Johnny “Moonbeam” Miller’s misguided efforts to halt construction of a 224-unit apartment complex in a scum-covered dumping ditch at South 14th Street and Lime in Fernandina Beach. The apartments would provide much needed housing while gadfly Ross thinks the property, that is currently used as a dumping site and a homeless encampment, should be a mosquito-preserve. Ross has announced a run for the City Commission seat being vacated by Mayor Robin Lentz. It appears that his sole purpose since moving here from Maryland — where he gained a reputation for meddling and spouting nonsense said the May 28, 2011 Washington Post (At the famed Tiki Bar in Southern Maryland, it’s the … – Washington Post ) and other newspapers in that area — is to continue annoying people with his arsenal of pie charts, graphs, and BS. Hopefully there aren’t more than 20 people dim enough to vote for this gasbag for the commission, which is already burdened with Johnny “Moonbeam” Miller and extreme environmentalist Len “Let’s Tax The Hotels” Kreger. If Ross was to be elected and this trio was in the majority instead of a prayer, every City Commission session would start with one of the three saying: “Hold our beers and watch this.”


Huh? Last week a reader wrote a comment highly critical of my story about Dr. Chip Ross. In his response to the article he accused me of writing things that weren’t in the story. What I don’t understand is that if what I write is so outrageous, why didn’t he quote me accurately? The writer also appears to be offended that I was critical of Dr. Ross at all, despite the fact that Ross has announced a run for a Fernandina Beach City Commission seat and proposes issues with which I totally disagree. According to this chap, no matter what Ross has said or done in the past or proposes for  the future I’m supposed to sit back and say nothing. Really?


Be Careful Of What You Wish For Department: According to an Associated press report, when Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers.

But, according to a major new study the hike has had the opposite effect. Because some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums they’ve cut their payrolls, put off new hiring, reduced hours and are letting their workers go, according to the study.

In a nutshell, the cost to low-wage Seattle workers outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one, according to the study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city. On the whole, the study estimates, the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum wage.

In San Francisco recently some 60 restaurants closed their doors since the city’s legislated minimum wage hikes because the eateries can’t afford it.

Is it any wonder then that economically strapped local entities ranging from small towns and large cities to debt-ridden states are all governed by Democrats, who are as useful to economics and capitalism as an accordion to a bicycle racer.

The conclusion to all this liberal nonsense is that raising the minimum wage to unsustainable heights fails on both logical and historical grounds. The left ignores past studies that found that the benefits of increases for low-wage workers exceed the costs in terms of reduced employment — often by a factor of four or five to one.

To paraphrase the left’s preferred framing on so many policy debates, “Why do Democrats hate poor people?”  


Things I wish I’d Said: “The only cop the New York Times likes is the one in the Village People.” — Ann Coulter


The What Could Possibly Go Wrong Department: A “concert” featuring a rapper called Finese 2Tymes, who has outstanding arrest warrants and promotes gun violence, ended when 25 of the 16-35 year-old attendees were shot in a shooting melee in Little Rock, Arkansas last weekend.

A poster featuring a man pointing a gun at a camera promoted the event with the rapper, whose talent consists of spouting vile, violent, misogynistic garbage. It’s like advertising free beer to a group of armed alcoholics, encouraging mayhem, and then being shocked when the crowd gets drunk and shoots up the joint.

The mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas’ governor, and the Little Rock chief of police all expressed surprise,  saying more needs to be done to stop the violence. Really? Then why did a club that had its license suspended 11 times for failing to pay taxes and has 14 alcohol violations get a permit to hold this sitting duck shooting spree featuring a guy who preaches violence, and has multiple arrest warrants? After fleeing Little Rock, the rapper (aka Ricky Hampton) was arrested in Alabama and several firearms were confiscated during his apprehension. It appears Mr. Hampton served six years in a Tennessee slammer for two counts of aggravated robbery.

And why aren’t people out there protesting this vile rap garbage that poses as entertainment and encourages violence? Good grief!


Call Me An Uber Please: A state law was passed this last legislative period and signed by Governor Rick Scott that says Uber will be legal in Fernandina Beach and the rest of Nassau County because the company will operate under state laws and not the mixed basket of rules and regulations local municipalities tried to layer on it. It’s a very useful and inexpensive tool to stay out from behind the wheel after celebrating. Friends I know use it here often, many even before the law was passed.


I knew This But Not That! In a recent Wall Street Journal review of the book “Careful” by Steve Casner, Amelia Island resident and former editor of Esquire, the New York Daily News and Newsweek, Ed Kosner, says: “His central point is that human fallibility is a fact of life. People — smart or dumb, young or old, highly educated or dropouts — can’t concentrate on a single task for long before their attention wanders. Multitasking is a myth: It generally means doing two things badly at the same time.” In the same book the author reveals something I didn’t know and that’s “most drowning victims don’t splash around making noise, but simply sink under the surface.” Mr. Kosner is a gifted writer and many times I’ve enjoyed his reviews more than the books.


More Things I Wish I Had Said: “The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people’s money away quietly and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.” – Thomas Sowell, quoted in the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Tonight, Friday, July 7, folks will be treated to the sounds of Island Vibe, a fun area group that will be performing during the scheduled “Sounds on Centre” beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. at the intersection of downtown Fernandina Beach’s Centre Street and 2nd Street. This is a free event that is always a fun family-friendly show. Bring a fold-up chair, a cooler and a sandwich or two if you want. After the show head to the Green Turtle, PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden, The Palace Saloon, Crab Trap, The Tavern, Salty Pelican, 801 Kitchen & Bar, Florida House or any of the other local pubs and bars within walking distance.



Charles E. (Eddie) Brown - 05. Aug, 2017 -

I have lived in both Carolinas, Texas, Tennessee, and now Florida. The best pork barbecue hands down is found in North Carolina between Shelby and Lexington. The true Memphis cue found in Western Tennessee, pork or beef, is second best, I intend to use Daves guide to bust every place in FB. However in Jacksonville Mojo’s, Bono’s, Three Rivers, and all others are just middle of the road. It is my belief that all barbeque is good, but Lexington style with red slaw is the best.

Marc Williams - 12. Jul, 2017 -

But Terrell, debating the qualities of various barbecue joints is part of the fun of eating the stuff. It’s a Southern tradition.

Terrell Jenkins - 08. Jul, 2017 -

Don’t get me wrong, I love barbecue. But,it seems like BBQ joints are popping up faster than Mexican restaurants. And then there are the arguments about which is best, beef or pork and whether Texas style BBQ is better than North Carolina grilling.’ And then there are the chili cookoffs. Enough already. Just find yourself a place that captures your tastebuds and use your mouth for its intended purpose…EATING. Not debating whose is better or bigger. Know what I mean??

Bill K. - 07. Jul, 2017 -

Dave, next time you are in Jacksonville check out the brisket at 4 Rivers Smokehouse on Baymeadows.

Christine Harmon - 07. Jul, 2017 -

Guess I’m going to be canceling your vote, Dave. I support Chip Ross. I also applaud Mr. Miller and Mr. Kreger for advancing habitat preservation and environmental protection efforts. We live on an island – where the land and ocean interface. We have responsibilities to marine life that we are ignoring. The ocean is their home. Research human impacts on the ocean/trash on marine life. Even if you don’t care about the cruelty we are inflicting on other creatures, you can’t deny the destruction we are causing – destruction that is harming the fishing industry. Did I press the right button? Think “food”.

Dave L - 07. Jul, 2017 -

Dave, with the proliferation of BBQ joints on the island you may want to consider expanding the responsibilities of the Fat Man from Outer Space to extend their range beyond burgers in order to also determine the “best” BBQ place. While the benefits package you offer (that would be none) may result in an investigation by the Dept of Health and Human Services but killing a cow and a pig with one stone might be a worthy endeavor.

R trox - 07. Jul, 2017 -

Once again for all you Texas BBQ lovers.You are now in the South where we eat good old smoked pork in many forms.We eat beef steak cooked on a grill.Not wanting to be rude but Delta has several flights a day to many Texas cities that offer beef (ugh) BBQ.

Pat - 07. Jul, 2017 -

You can see that 14th St housing project playing out like the hotel deal on Sadler near the DQ. The City prevented the development of a hotel there some years ago. Perfect and valuable use of the property. Some “concerned citizens” claimed the proposal was violative of our local wetlands. Those were “wetlands” apparently created when fill was taken from the site for an adjoining property. Result was the City stopped the deal and to avoid an inevitable loss in court paid north of $500K to buy the land. My memory is the owner bought it for about $80K. Today taxpayers of FB own that non tax paying property. That’s only one of the many non performing parcels the City owns.

chuck hall - 07. Jul, 2017 -

Thanks for the Sounds On Centre mention! See you there!

Joe Murphy - 07. Jul, 2017 -

Great low down on local BBQ.
Over the years I noticed that the “phonies who move here” did not like what they had at home . Now here they are, don’t like what hey see and all are for the change they mucked around in up north. I have this social tribe as BMW’s. Bitches, Moaners ,Whiners.
I can proudly say this Dave from South Brooklyn, NY and have lived here in paradise for 42 years.

Jeff McDowell - 07. Jul, 2017 -

Regarding Ed Kosner’s quote… “His central point is that human fallibility is a fact of life. People — smart or dumb, young or old, highly educated or dropouts — can’t concentrate on a single task for long before their attention wanders. ”
This is utter non, – Oh Wait, there goes Pajama Dave on his motorcycle!

Phil Tita - 07. Jul, 2017 -

Another great read! Thanks Dave

Lou Goldman - 07. Jul, 2017 -

Hey Dave, if you would donate a truck load of mesquite wood to one of our BBQ joints, maybe we could get some Texas brisket.