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Ray Lever's Bar-B-Q, Lorick Road: 1990s   18 comments

Posted at 12:14 am in historic,restaurants

Lorick Road is off of Folk Road, which is off of Wilson Boulevard, which is what North Main Street becomes as it nears I-20. As I was riding out that way early last month with my sister & niece on our way to a "Country Farm Adventure", I noticed Ray Lever's Bar-B-Q (or possibly just Lever's BBQ, depending on if you believe the roof or the front door placard) sitting abandoned off of the road.

It struck me as a very "barbecue" location -- off in the middle of nowhere (sorry Blythewood!), and at that first drive-by, I wasn't even completely sure it was closed. Barbecue places tend to have odd open days and to be as a rule, rather delapidated. (There's a place in the DC area whose slogan is "The Best Barbecue You'll Ever Eat In A Building That Hasn't Already Been Condemned"). When I drove back out there and got out though, it was apparent that the place was genuinely defunct. The name was vaguely familiar, so I did a bit of googling and found that the place is very fondly remembered by a good number of people though the owner got himself in some serious legal trouble before the final closure of the place. Lever's son reports that the family recipies have been passed on to Southern Pig BBQ also in the Blythewood area.

Written by ted on November 3rd, 2008

18 Responses to 'Ray Lever's Bar-B-Q, Lorick Road: 1990s'

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  1. I used to go there in the 70s and the 80s. It was a busy place in those days and you could find their sauce for sale in local supermarkets.

    If memory serves well, someone in the family got busted for selling drugs and things went downhill from there.

    Tom

    3 Nov 08 at 11:15 am

  2. I too used to love eating the BBQ and Georgia Hash back in the 70's when my wife Renee and I lived in Columbia. We're both from NY city but we were there from 1969 when I was sent to Ft. Jackson for basic then assigned to Ft.J for my two years in the service. After being discharge we stayed in Columbia where she worked at Taco Cid and I attended Midlands Tech. then USC. After my MBA I worked at the computer center before Renee and I and our then two year old son Derek went back up north. I still have extremely fond memories of "pigging" out at Ray's all you could eat and have to this day tried very hard to match his BBQ and sauce. I do a fair job of it with a pork shoulder on my back yard smoker and my own rub and sauce recipe but will never forget my decade in SC with great friends and great food, especially BBQ and Georgia hash at Ray's.

    Rick Schoenman

    2 Jan 10 at 1:54 pm

  3. ray lever was my grandpas brother. I know the story behind the closing of his resturant, and the closing of his sauce plant. maurice bessinger bought the old resturant and reopened it under his name.

    ps.

    I have the reciepe for his sauce and bessingers sauce it has been in the family for generations ever since i could stir pot and stoke the pits. I miss them both very much

    mike

    20 Jan 10 at 7:24 pm

  4. Wow, I came across this because I became a fan of "you knew you grew up in Dentsville..." Anyway, I grew up eating Ray Levers BBQ - I didn't understand the reference by Rick to "Georgia Hash" - I live in Georgia and that's one thing that drives me nuts - they don't serve hash with BBQ, they have Brunswick Stew. Everytime I go to SC, I look up the local BBQ place and try their hash. The only hash I ever had that came close to Levers was the Saluda Meat Mkt - I was lucky, my brother lived in Saluda and was able to keep me a steady supply, but that place is closed down as well. I'd give anything for a recipe for hash that tasted like Levers!

    Debi

    21 Jan 10 at 1:20 pm

  5. used to live right across the street from ray levers. my family and i ate there every weekend. i lived in bentons trailer park, which if you came out of that road , used the little cut
    through dirt road and then took a left, that's where i lived. also
    used to eat the burgers at s&s corner and rent movies there too, plus used to eat the great hot dogs @ Jimbos. Also frequented the phillips 66 gas station right on the corner.
    my family all lived in great falls, sc so we were always stopping at one of those places on the way to visit them. also
    picked a tree for christmas every year from the tree farm. lots
    of good memories from that area.

    charlotte simpson smith

    30 Jan 11 at 8:08 pm

  6. my mom used to work at s&s cafeteria. she really liked that
    job. does anyone know if jimbos is still serving up those great
    hot dogs?

    charlotte simpson smith

    30 Jan 11 at 8:13 pm

  7. @Charlotte, there appear to be a few Jimbo's around but not in Columbia...the only ones I could find when I google mapped it were in NYC, Nashville, Pittsburgh and San Rafael (CA). So unless you can fancy a trip to NYC, Nashville or Pittsburgh, I'm afraid you're out of luck

    btw Ted, I understand what you mean about BBQ restaurant tendencies. There's one in West Columbia called Hite's BBQ located at 240 Dreher Road that it seems like is rarely open. Every time I pass it it's closed and nobody's home.

    Andrew

    30 Jan 11 at 11:16 pm

  8. My dad took us to Ray Lever's about once a month when we were growing up. I remember how Mrs. Lever always remembered us kids when we came through. I used to hurry and finish my plate so I could run over to the desert bar which was a cold cart with pudding and jell-o. I also remember the "No Brown Bags" sign on the side area of the building where the picnic tables were. I used to love loading up my plate and grabbing some bread slices straight from the bag and sitting at a table near the wood stove. My dad knew the family somehow. He grew up in Winnsborro and I think this was somehow his connection. I also remember that it often smelled of a cow pasture on the outside when we pulled up. Best barbecue ever. Hands down. Fond memories.

    Brent Carter

    3 Mar 11 at 11:42 am

  9. This was one of my favorite Columbia-area BBQ joints. RIP!

    Blaine

    17 Aug 11 at 11:27 am

  10. I grew up behind the bbq hut on top of the hill. Ray did have good bbq, however, being raised near the hut smelling it twenty four seven kinda makes it not so appealing, expeically when the family dog would roll around in the grease pit and come home covered in it. As far as "jimbo's" he was shot and killed in his store when he got robbed several years back. And ray went out of buisness when him and freddy got busted with a few lbs. of cocaine in their caddy!

    Julie

    2 Oct 11 at 7:05 pm

  11. My kids were raised on Ray Lever's BBQ Sauce. We moved to Illinois in '93 and I went to every store I could and bought EVERY bottle they had of Ray Lever's BBQ Sauce. We sure do MISS it!

    Michelle

    20 Oct 11 at 8:02 pm

  12. When I worked at PMSC (Policy Management Systems Corp.) back in the 80's I would stop by Lever's once in a while to grab some BBQ and hash to go for dinner. I always enjoyed the BBQ and the hash, better than Maurice's, but not as good as Shealy's in Batesburg-Leesville. BTW, Four Oaks Farms in Lexington has seme AWESOME BBQ and hash that reminds me of the old Oak Grove BBQ restaurant (there's a blast from the past). The funniest thing I remember is, while waiting for my order at Lever's to-go room, there was an old cigarette machine in the room that actually had unfiltered Philip Morris cigarettes in it. I had never seen these except for old ads from the 50's and 60's and didn't even know they were still available. Well, for sh*ts and giggles, I bought a pack and I think they had been in there since the 60's!! They just about crumbled when I took the out of the pack. Thinking back I should have kept them, unopened, as a collectors item.

    Homer

    13 Feb 12 at 1:06 am

  13. best bbq and hash and sauce ever cant belive rays son never reopened it , what a shame blythewood once had the greatest bbq hut ever and now we have to watch it falling down , wish i owned the place i would open it , iam a bbq cook myself won many compations , ray was my insperation i make bbq sauce and hash real close to his . i sure miss rays bbq hut

    rob

    26 Apr 12 at 2:18 pm

  14. Got introduced to Ray's when someone brought take-out to a party not long before I moved away in '68. It became almost a religious pilgrimage to go there and get my barbecue fix every time I came home to visit in later years. I even followed the new owners to Southern Pig in Blythewood after Lever's closed. They did a good job and it. Looks like they're still around if you're curious.

    Etienne Culler

    17 Jun 13 at 11:34 pm

  15. Boy, I'll bet this place is really falling into disrepair by now...

    Homer

    19 Jun 13 at 1:29 am

  16. I apologize for my 65 yr. old memory; but I could have sworn Ray called it "Georgia" hash but I could be wrong. My wife, Renee and I, stop at Maurice's in Irmo when traveling between L.I. and Ft. Lauderdale. It's not nearly as good but it's convenient and the closest we can get to the old days' favorite: Ray Lever's, without deviating too far from I-95.
    As far as the sauce; I'd love to hear of another "on-line" source besides Maurice's. At least it's close to the gold I remember from Ray's.
    As far as Hash goes, Maurice has a close facsimile that's always too greasy but at least brings us back to the old days in Columbia, SC and our old friends, never forgotten.
    Here's a recipe that I've worked on over the yrs. that I must admit doesn't do it, but comes close - for home made.

    Rick's South Carolina BBQ Hash

    2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped ( U want them to break down into mush so don't choose red)
    1 Lrg. onion, chopped.
    2 cups yesterday's BBQ pork, chopped fine.
    Water just to cover.
    3-4 TBS Spice rub (or to taste). You don't have a recipe you say? Oh, how sad. Send my $10,000 and I'll share mine.
    3-4 TBS BBQ sauce (or to taste) (again, I use Maurice's Mustard based)
    2-3 TBS white or apple vinegar (or what ever's on hand)

    In a sturdy stock pot or dutch oven of appropriate size add all ingrediants.
    Just Cover with water.
    Bring to a boil.
    Partially cover and cook over low heat until the consistency of thin pudding.
    Serve over Rice (preferably, if you want the old fashioned experience: watery "instant rice") Yuck. But to each his/her own.

    Oh Well;
    Here's my Spice Rub:

    Rick's Secret BBQ Spice Rub

    Classification level: For Your Eyes Only (a double "0" agent will be dispatched to terminate you if you share this with anyone other than family or good friends)

    2 Tbs. Salt
    2 Tbs. Sugar
    3 Tbs. Brown Sugar
    1 Tbs. Chile Powder
    1 Tbs. Black Pepper
    1/2 - 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (to taste-more if you like it HOT)
    1 Teaspoon Paprika
    1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

    Mix thoroughly breaking up the brown sugar lumps.
    Store in an airtight dry container.
    Rub freely on pork roast (especially) ["smoke it low and slow please"], chicken, ribs etc.

    Rick Schoenmann

    30 Sep 14 at 3:09 pm

  17. One of the founders of the company I worked for would declare a Ray Leaver's luncheon. It'd take a while to make the commute from Forest Drive to the place, but hey, The boss was there. We didn't worry about taking the long lunch.

    Good BBQ. I like the mustard base, but my heart belongs to NC Vinegar base (with a splash of Pineapple juice) I have 2 smokers. A Brinkmann Smoke 'n pit horizontal with the fire-box on the side I use for pork butts and a vertical Weber Smokey-mountain smoker for ribs & chicken. Any time I have guests, or head out to my sister's place at the beach, I'll do a 5lb butt.

    I LOVE to smoke!

    MrBO

    30 Sep 14 at 6:10 pm

  18. Depending on what kind of meat I was BBQ-ing, my hash consists only of finely chopped chicken, pork or beef in a mustard and vinegar sauce that I use no recipe for. No vegetables at all.

    I have seen people try to pass off what looks like Brunswick Stew as hash. Not in my book, even though I do love a bowl or two of it once in a while.

    Growing up in Columbia I was raised on mustard sauce but I can eat the NC vinegar sauce in a pinch. No way to I want tomato based sauce on pork. On beef, it's fine, but it does not belong on the same table as pork.

    That's what I like about Little Pigs. You can have any sauce you want or just eat that wonderful smoked pork in all its naked glory!!

    Homer

    30 Sep 14 at 10:47 pm

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