RALEIGH, N.C. – In less than five years Raleigh-based Backyard Bistro has earned quite a reputation in the Triangle for its BBQ grilling and tailgating expertise, complementing its expansive catering business and popular family, sports-themed restaurant across from PNC Arena and Carter-Finley Stadium.
This summer, the rest of the nation can now get an inside glimpse of how Backyard Bistro’s grilling operation was founded and the history behind the company’s 38-foot “Big Rig” as one of four businesses across the country featured on an episode of Epic BBQ Pits on the Destination America Cable Network.
“The first reaction when people see The Big Rig is ‘wow,”’ said Backyard Bistro co-owner Lance Wheeler. “Very few people have ever seen anything like it.”
“Our goal of the show was to feature over-the-top BBQs and we searched for the best and Backyard Bistro’s name kept popping up,” said Janice McDonald, the show’s field producer.
The Big Rig, equivalent to an outdoor kitchen on wheels, turns heads as it makes it way down the road or pulls into an on-site grilling location in the Triangle, state of North Carolina or across the Southeast.
The self-sufficient Big Rig displays four 3-by-5 feet grills (large enough to cook a whole 150-pound pig each), two cast-iron burners, two 35-pound fryers, a homemade hush puppy maker, six 40-pound LP gas tanks, four sinks and more than a half dozen large stainless steel storage boxes.
The Big Rig was a collaboration between Wheeler and Melvin Whitman, the owner of BQ Grills in Elm City, N.C.
“As our groups kept getting larger and larger I figured I would put something together to play with,” Wheeler said. “Melvin and I talk once every six months about new designs and ways to increase volume.”
“It’s one of the biggest, badest cookers out there,” added Whitman, who also designed Backyard Bistro’s five other grills. “It has everything but the kitchen sink.”
The Big Rig has fed as many as 8,000 hungry souls over a 2 ½-hour span with 16 buffet lines going at once.
“We believe our equipment, on-site grilling expertise, food quality and professional staff provide our customers with a truly exceptional BBQ experience,” said Joe Lumbrazo, Wheeler’s Backyard Bistro partner.
Backyard Bistro was also featured in August 2011 on an episode of TLC’s “Outrageous Kids Parties,” catering a 500-person guest list for the country carnival-themed show and catered the 75th anniversary celebration for Ducks Unlimited aboard the USS North Carolina battleship.
Backyard Bistro has been highlighted in Cary Living magazine for three straight years as the premier tailgating specialist in the Triangle.
About Backyard Bistro:
Backyard Bistro is located off Trinity Road, within walking distance of PNC Arena and Carter-Finley Stadium. The family-owned restaurant opened in April 2009 and offers Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner menus, a full-service bar, private banquet room, along with custom on-site catering, tailgating services and concessions across the Triangle, state of North Carolina and the Southeast.
About Destination America:
Formally Planet Green, Destination America is the first network to celebrate the people, places, and stories of the United States, emblazoned with the grit and tenacity, honesty and work ethic, humor and adventurousness that characterize our nation. Targeting adults 25-54, the network is available in 59.5 million homes and features original series covering such subjects as American food, mysteries, heroes and iconic landmarks.