It is a sad days for fans of Eastern North Carolina barbecue. Wilber Shirley passed away Monday at the age of 90.
Shirley opened the iconic Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro in 1962, with a plan to serve Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue cooked the old-fashioned way – whole hog, over a wood-fired pit. Over the years, Wilber’s gained popularity as one of the few barbecue restaurants that still used the traditional pit cooking process. Generations of families have lined up for hushpuppies and BBQ at the landmark restaurant.
In March of 2019, Wilber’s Barbecue closed its doors due to financial issues. However, a group of local investors stepped in to reopen Wilber’s in July of 2020 with Shirley still serving as an advisor and mentor at the restaurant.
Upon its reopening, Shirley was quoted as saying, “Our method of cooking whole hogs over hardwood coals overnight is not easy or cheap, but it is the right way, and something we as a community take a lot of pride in.”