The history of North Carolina barbecue is nearly as old as the history of North Carolina itself. And you can’t talk about North Carolina barbecue without The Skylight Inn. Known to the locals as Pete Jones’ BBQ has been cooking whole hogs over wood since 1947. However, Pete’s great-great-grandfather began selling barbecue in Ayden, North Carolina out of the back of a covered wagon sometime in the mid-1800s. But Pete Jones opened his namesake restaurant in the summer of that 1947 at age 17. Since that time the Skylight Inn has become a standard in eastern NC barbecue. Known for its rich family history and unwavering dedication to cooking Barbecue the old fashioned way—with wood. And the Skylight Inn has stayed true to its roots ever since.
In 1979 National Geographic published a book entitled Back Roads America and proclaimed Pete Jones’ Skylight Inn to be some of the best Barbecue in the country.
Just a few years later in 1982, Pete’s barbeque got the attention of some politicians and he was invited to serve his barbecue at a congressional bowl. There President Reagan and Vice President Bush delighted in the wonderful smoke flavored Pork and followed up with a letter to Pete and son Bruce stating how great the barbecue was.
Continuing the Tradition of Great Barbecue
Skylight’s pigs were simmering with success as local and national newspapers and magazines continued to write about this little place in Ayden, NC. Southern Living magazine featured has the Skylight Inn several times, most recently naming Pete’s Grandson Sam as “one of the top ten pitmasters in the south” in 2012.
People magazine featured the Skylight Inn in 1991 and success continued. In 1999 the Skylight Inn gloried in an article in GQ magazine saying the “Pete Jones was a man among pigs”.
In 2003 the Skylight Inn received its most prestigious award, revered to as many as “the Oscars for culinary arts”. In a new category, the Jones family received one of four James Beard awards for “Americas Classics.”
Since then it has been featured television networks such as the Travel Channel, Food Network, and the History Channel. Also, written about in numerous publications such as Our State Magazine and Details Magazine. Details Magazine chose the Skylight Inn for having one of the “Top 22 sandwiches” in America in 2006 and was on the CBS Morning Show in 2007.
Although Pete passed away in February 2006, his legacy and mark in Barbecue is still going strong. Skylight Inn BBQ is now operated by Pete’s son Bruce, nephew Jeff, and grandson Sam Jones who are very proud and dedicated to carrying on the legacy that Pete Jones left. The pits still smoke, and the fire burns brighter than ever.
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Information and Photos from SkylightInnBBQ.com