ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A smokehouse in the mountains has sat residents, tourists and even President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during a campaign stop in 2008. 

What You Need To Know

  • 12 Bones says it is neither western nor eastern North Carolina barbecue
  • The smokehouse also offers Texas-style brisket
  • The kitchen manager says the restaurant's variety has brought it a loyal clientele

As the doors of 12 Bones open to welcome people from across the country, kitchen manager Joe Lewis is ready to show them a unique twist on barbecue.

“People come in and be like, ‘Oh my gosh! I heard about your ribs. I heard about your restaurant and your sides. What do you recommend?’" Lewis said. “And of course everyone asks, ‘Where did Obama sit?’” 

The most important step in reaching this point is the preparation before the doors even open. 

“We’re working on special items that we’ll do for the rest of the day, and we’ll be open in about half an hour!” Lewis said as he seasoned burgers.

According to Lewis, the 12 Bones team is one big family, and that helps keep the kitchen running.

“I enjoy the routine, I enjoy how everything is very precise,” Lewis said. “You’re working with good products, and there’s a method of how everything works.”

Even though preparing meat is a lengthy process, no sides are left behind.

“We’re not set in like one genre of barbecue, we’re not Eastern North Carolina barbecue, we’re not Western North Carolina barbecue," Lewis said. "We do brisket, which is a Texas thing, so we’re kinda all over the place, and we have the freedom to roam.” 

With that freedom comes a loyal crowd. 

“A lot of it is familiar faces. We have a ton of repeat customers that come in,” Lewis said. “A lot of them are like family. We know their birthdays, they know our birthdays. It’s always good when they give us feedback, like, ‘Hey! Oh my gosh, that was the best.’”