Bill Reese's "World-Famous" Barbecue



I'm always intrigued by places that call themselves "World Famous" because, really — who says they are? Did the International Tribunal in The Hague hand down that decision?

But, judging from this tiny ad that ran in a 1958 issue of the Memphis Hotel & Motel Guide, a fellow named Bill Reese made that claim about the barbecue served from his humble drive-in establishment on Jackson Avenue.

And, to be fair, since I never dined there, who's to argue?

(Does anyone remember this place? Was it really that good?)

I can't say how long Reese stayed in business here — well, I could, but I don't feel like going to all that trouble. But sometime in the late 1960s the building was demolished to make way for one of our city's first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. I'm assuming that, only because the city directories listed it as KFC #1, though such numbering isn't always reliable. It doesn't really matter. Nowadays, the old KFC building is home to a car dealership.

Perhaps even a "world famous" car dealership? Well, why not?

ADVERTISEMENT COURTESY MEMPHIS HOTEL & MOTEL GUIDE

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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