Poole’s Bar-B-Q reopens in Ellijay with new owner, same Pig Hill of Fame

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

When Marcelo Sandrini heard in November that Poole’s Bar-B-Q was closing after more than 30 years in Ellijay, he immediately tracked down the owner, Darvin Poole.

“It came as a shock and surprise to all of us,” said Sandrini, who has lived in Ellijay for a decade and owns Ellijay Wood Fired Pizza and Kasei Sushi, both in downtown Ellijay with his wife, Candace. “I knew I didn’t want it to close. It has such a history, and it was the first restaurant I ate at when I came to Ellijay.”

Poole’s parents, “Colonel” Oscar and Edna, opened the restaurant in East Ellijay in 1989. Poole closed it in November 2022 to spend more time with his family, but even then he was hopeful that another restaurateur would purchase it.

Enter Sandrini, who reopened Poole’s today with the restaurant’s original menu, featuring a variety of smoked meats and sides like Brunswick stew and fried okra, intact.

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“They showed us everything that they do, so we can replicate exactly what they’ve been doing for years,” he said.

Also unchanged: the Pig Hall of Fame, a mountainside behind the building with more than 300 plywood swine painted with the names of customers from around the country.

Changes to the building will also be minimal, including a fresh coat of paint and some new furniture.

But that doesn’t mean Sandrini won’t put his own mark on the restaurant with a few tweaks. In addition to the “classic” Poole’s menu, Sandrini plans to add some new dishes including Korean barbecue ribs, Texas-style brisket, and sauces from different regions.

He also wants to introduce some new cooking techniques that he said will “make the meat juicier and more tender” and will bring the Ellijay Wood Fired Pizza food truck to the restaurant so guests can order slices.

“When we opened our first restaurants, we looked to Poole’s as the kind of restaurants we wanted to be,” Poole said “Not too big, not too small, family-friendly, and not taking anything too seriously, except for the food.”

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