Joe Swicegood opened Little Pigs Bar-B-Q when his three children were young back in 1963; he had no way of knowing he'd still visit the place every day for the next 52 years. Today, Swicegood is 88, but he still comes to work to ensure the hickory-smoked chopped barbecue is the best it can be.
"Restaurant work is the hardest work you're ever going to do, but there's something about it that just gets in your blood," says Michele Swicegood, Joe's daughter.
She grew up in the restaurant south of downtown (about half a mile from Biltmore Estate), and during that time, it was one of the only eateries in town. As a result, everyone who lived here frequented its cozy dining room. "Back in the day, you'd have the owners of Biltmore coming in along with the man who was counting his pennies to get a chicken leg," Michele remembers. "It was and still is very, very diverse in clientele, and everyone is welcome."
The restaurant's owes its success to simple, quality food, Michele explains. In the back of the restaurant, the menu from 1963 still hangs on the wall. It hasn't changed all that much in 52 years. "It is a very simple menu," she says. "We do chicken and barbecue. Period."
Michele's family moved to Asheville in the early 1900s, and they've developed a deep fondness for the town that keeps them here serving great food. "Asheville is a grounded, authentic, warm and safe place to land," she says. "You're surrounded by these mountains, which I always view as these welcoming and loving arms."