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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Harold’s Barbecue to close next week

Brunswick Stew at Harold's Barbecue top pick in Atlanta. (AJC Staff Photo/Joey Ivansco)

Brunswick Stew at Harold's Barbecue top pick in Atlanta. (AJC Staff Photo/Joey Ivansco)

Next Thursday, May 3 will mark the 65th year of business for Harold’s Barbecue and the day it will close its doors forever.

This original location at 171 McDonough Boulevard on the Southside of Atlanta survived the opening and closing of two other Harold’s locations and the passing of owner Harold Hembree, Jr. in 2008. Current owner Billy Branyon explains why the original Harold’s is closing now, “The economy has gotten us. We are a lunch business… people are carpooling and are not going to lunch as much. It’s the economy.”

Back in February, both the AJC readers and Dining Team member Jon Watson picked Harold’s Barbecue as the top spot for getting brunswick stew in a Best of the Big A vote. Watson said, “Harold’s has been one of Atlanta’s favorite old-school barbecue spots for decades, and their Brunswick stew wins some of their highest praises. The traditional  emulsified-style stew makes for a fantastic dunking sauce for their cracklin’ cornbread, and should be your first pick for a side at the landmark smokehouse.”

You still have one week left to get a bowl of brunswick stew and cracklin’ cornbread.

– by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

98 comments Add your comment

PapaDoc

April 26th, 2012
1:17 pm

I had heard rumors of such a dreadful thing in the offing. My grandfather, an Atlanta cop, used to take me there when I was a child. I was fortunate to take my kids there when we returned from Texas. It is a landmark. One of my favorites. I am going to try to get down there before next Thursday. Thanks for the head’s up.

Owen http://icnt.mx

April 26th, 2012
1:27 pm

Steve

April 26th, 2012
2:04 pm

Overrated and nasty. Buh-bye.

Ostrich Racer

April 26th, 2012
2:20 pm

Another true Atlanta institution disappears. I hope they auction off the fixtures and decorations — I would gladly bid for the autographed picture of Space Ghost.

Bar-b-q Aficionado

April 26th, 2012
2:25 pm

Enter your comments here

Bar-b-q Aficionado

April 26th, 2012
2:27 pm

Sorry for prior post.

Unfortunately, quality had nosedived in recent years. Nobody is going into that part of town for mediocrity.

Matt

April 26th, 2012
2:32 pm

Harolds used to be very good, but it has gone downhill FAST in the last 12 months. The roof leaks and their way to fix it is to put bed pans on the floor, the service is HORRIBLE (slow) and the food is bland. When I first started going there, the cracklin’ cornbread used to be regular cornbread size. Now it’s turned into something that looks like a saltine. Better places to go with better food and better service (and take debit/credit cards) in Atlanta. The economy and those damned carpoolers didn’t get them, their food and service did.

yuzeyurbrane

April 26th, 2012
2:36 pm

I am glad I finally went about 2 years ago because of all the acclaim one would here. What a disaster. Absolute worst Q I have ever had. And hygiene level was questionable at best. The only good things were the Brunswick Stew and crackling cornbread. But not enough to travel extra for. RIP. Long overdue.

Sam

April 26th, 2012
2:38 pm

There are a lot of better BBQ places nowadays, and in better, closer parts of town (good location if you’re staying in the crossbar hotel down the street).

Though they do have a good brunswick stew.

Call It Like It Is

April 26th, 2012
2:58 pm

Same as above, your closing because of the service and quality of food. Pleanty of bbq joints rocking it out at lunch time. You serve good food, you make, you don’t your out of here.

Chuck Snow

April 26th, 2012
3:37 pm

Years ago when I worked at the Ford plant it was terrific. I stopped by a while back to show my grandson how good BBQ could be ,,,,,,,, it was terrible,,, and the restaurant was filthy. I knew then it was doomed.

[...] has been on my list to try for sometime, but haven’t had a chance to get there.  Looks like I won’t get that chance.  If anyone would like to share a comment about Harold’s, please do [...]

Straight shooter

April 26th, 2012
3:44 pm

I can appreciate people who lament the closing of a place that’s been in business for decades and certainly respect their staying power for all those years. But I agree with the previous posters that felt like the closing is due to service and declining food quality over the past few years. The food is flat out not that good and service sucks. I went there several times and tried to like it simply because it had been there so long but finally came to grips with the fact that it’s just not worth it.

Carpooling and the economy? That’s a joke; there are plenty of BBQ restaurants with lines of customers out the door. Sounds like the new clueless owner needs to look in the mirror to point the finger of blame.

DD

April 26th, 2012
4:12 pm

Went 20 years ago not very good even then .

Edward

April 26th, 2012
4:25 pm

I’m so tired of people blaming “the economy” for their own failings. There are too many places that are still doing good business for that lame excuse to pass muster. If the food and service were still up to par, even in a “bad economy” they could survive, especially one with the reputation that Harold’s had. It appears the new owners simply could not live up to that reputation and the community just wasn’t willing to let that pass.

Prez Obozo Da Clown

April 26th, 2012
4:30 pm

I used to eat there once a month or so when I worked down town for about 15 years. Last ate there back in Dec. or Jan. I agree the quality was not what it used to be… Still hate to see it go.

bill

April 26th, 2012
4:58 pm

trying to blame the economy and carpooling is absurd…anybody that’s gone there in the last 6 mos knows food quality and service drove this landmark restaurant into the ditch!

Foghorn

April 26th, 2012
5:04 pm

Worked off of University Ave in the early 80’s and would lunch there often. It was fantastic but had not been back since then. I was fired up when they opened the McDonough location a few years back. Took some friends there the first week it opened. It was horrible. Gave it a month and went back one more time. It was again horrible (food, service, portion size). I don’t think that location lasted 6 months.

Baltisraul

April 26th, 2012
5:46 pm

Have not been there since the mid-80’s. Sorry to hear so many of you thought it had gone down hill so drastically. But a 65 yr old family business is something to be proud!

atlbbqclub

April 26th, 2012
6:02 pm

Atlanta BBQ club is sorry to see any BBQ place close especially an institution like Harolds.

There are several other high quality BBQ places in Atlanta . Check out our website to find them
http://www.atlbbqclub.com

Stormtrooper H

April 26th, 2012
7:35 pm

I go pretty far out of my way to eat good BBQ and when I had a co-worked in town a few years ago with the same attitude I took him to Harold’s for both of our 1st times.

The service AND food was terrible, the sauce seemed to be straight Texas Pete’s, I don’t see how it passed health inspections and while we were there the manager(?) came out of the kitchen with a shotgun and his finger on the trigger (the barrel swept where we were sitting) after someone yelled from outside that “that guy is back again”..

I went back 1 more time last year and it was pretty much the same, but worse. So long..

dee in Forest Park

April 26th, 2012
7:55 pm

We ate at Harolds in Jonesboro frequently when they were still open. Always great. Fell in love with the cracklin cornbread. Would love to have the recipe for it.

Davester

April 26th, 2012
9:01 pm

What took so long…..this place sucked 20 years ago and still sucks today!! Worst BBQ on the southside!! Who would drive into that area for a plate of crap!! Not safe, Not clean, Not acceptable!! All the “Good” BBQ joints have plenty of lunch business!! This place has never been much good!!

OTP

April 26th, 2012
10:09 pm

I never was impressed by the place.

S S Truth be told

April 27th, 2012
1:52 am

Born, raised and still live on the south side of atlanta.I have been eating at Harolds on and off for some 60+ years. After all of the negative comments on Facebook recently I went for a late lunch in March to see for myself. Menu barly readable, scratched out, written over several times. No one acknowledged I was there ( one other customer besides me) Lots of staff doing nothing. Young ones walking around playing with their I Pads and cell phones.Employee in conversation with the other customer pauses and says to me “out of pork” OK give me the stew. He serves the stew and goes back to his conversation. Had to interupt him to ask for a glass of water and tea. Refills never offered. Stew was spot on as I remembered it, however there was no cracklings in the cornbread. As told in a Facebook post by a family member of younger brother Lee. After Harold and Don passed away Lee and his wife ran it for several years maintaining the legacy and financial stability. Lee finally threw in the towel due to too many of the kids and grand kids fingers in the till and interferance in the running of the business. They are the ones that have run it into the ground, Living on Harold reputation rather than maintaing their/ his legacy. As posted in other comments, the economy had little to do with it. The Jonesboro location was successful for a good while and failed during good economy times. Lack of discipline and poor management closed Harolds not the economy!

bbq lover

April 27th, 2012
2:13 am

After 65 years it has lived out its fine life. Ihaven’t been there in over ten years as it is by the penetentiary which scared me. Service industry is lacking in most of the restaurants What ever happened to the ten steps of service…employees that just don’t care.

Ben Loggins

April 27th, 2012
7:53 am

This explains why the Jonesboro location closed in 2008. I still see people today wanting to know why it closed when the food was great.
We Still miss it.

Atl..Native

April 27th, 2012
7:53 am

Gross. Now if that nasty Fox Bros. would close down. Talk about over-rated and over salted. I have gotten food poisoning there twice in the past year… it is disgusting and low quality. Gross.

Atl..Native

April 27th, 2012
7:55 am

Wait, did I read correctly that bbq lover afraid to go here because of its proximity to the penitentiary? seriously?!

Pattie Baker

April 27th, 2012
8:05 am

When I moved here from NYC 23 years ago, this is the very first place a co-worker took me. Great memory.

Sandflea12

April 27th, 2012
8:08 am

NOOOOO….say it ain’t so! My parents went there when they were dating and I went there when I was dating and attending Fulton High School in Lakewood. We are a family of Atlantan natives for generations and I have had many a bowl of brunswick stew in my life, but Harold’s had the best of all. I have gone there over the years more as a tribute to my old neighborhood and memories, and that stew in particular. Harold’s has a special place in my heart and my memory……I will miss it.

Paul Gregory

April 27th, 2012
8:15 am

It was great in the 70’s.

Wes Mantooth

April 27th, 2012
8:58 am

As an ATL native my family and I have been going to Harold’s for as long as I can remember. It had declined over the past few years but still sad to see it go. Best stew around.

Seannon

April 27th, 2012
9:23 am

I don’t know what is sadder, the closing of an Atlanta institution ( established the year my daddy was born) or the torent of negative remarks in this thread. You know what they say about opinions,but still.Removing yourselves from your opinions on food quality, service etc, this is a place that has been in buisness for 65 years, which in this city is sayin something. In a town all too eager to bulldoze it’s past, Harold’s has been serving the same food, the same way for 65 years,and there’s alot to be said for that. To see one family’s legacy so quickly dismissed by the “higbrow intellectuals and gourmands” of the keyboard frankly speaks less to the quality of Harold’s, than to the quality of the AJC’s readership. Alas the Atlanta of Lewis Grizzard, Skip Caray, Furman Bisher,and Ludlow Porch will soon be but a memory, know only to those who ever bothered to care in the first place.

HCCynic

April 27th, 2012
9:24 am

Farewell old friend!

Your passing has been expected and while still sad, truly for the best. You lived a good life, made in-numerable people happy, but as with life in general, age, time, and unenthused caregivers took its toll.

May you re-open on the other side with fresh paint, loyal patrons from days gone by, and an honest to goodness open air pit stacked wide with Heavenly hams for the faithful.

Becky

April 27th, 2012
9:31 am

I have eaten there one time and decided that that one time was enough to make me never want to go back..I didn’t like the food or the service or the looks of the place..

As others have said though, I’m sorry to see a family business cloes down after so many years in business..

HCCynic

April 27th, 2012
9:34 am

@ Seannon, I agree with most of your comment, especially, “Alas the Atlanta of Lewis Grizzard, Skip Caray, Furman Bisher,and Ludlow Porch will soon be but a memory, known only to those who ever bothered to care in the first place.”

BUT, your statement “Harold’s has been serving the same food, the same way for 65 years” is false. The reality is that they have not “served the same food, the same way” these past few years. To believe they have is to:

1. be living in denial, or

2 not have known the true Harold’s.

Which is it? Are you living in denial or trying to pass as a native Atlantian who knew the true Harold’s?

Seannon

April 27th, 2012
10:11 am

@HCCynic..sadly, via the anonimity of the interwebs I’d have to go with denial. Since my exodus to the burbs, I’ll admit that my trips to Harold’s have been infrequent as of late.They’re tempered by weekly/biweekly reports from my father as to the lack of availablity of ribs or stew on any given weekday. As to my ‘native status” or what constitues the ‘true Harold’s:” you got me there. I’m not a Grady baby like my younger brother and sisters. I moved to Atlanta in 84 when I was eight. My family bought a house in Grant Park in the 80’s when the neighborhood wasn’t exactly the way it is now, but I’ve lived up and down Boulevard ( on both sides of the tracks) and Harold’s was always a constant. My dad took me and my first girlfriend there for my 15th birthday, and a year and a half ago when my wife and I were planning our wedding, the only thing I requested was that we have Harold’s stew and cracklin bread at the reception(which we did). Maybe I’m hampered by my relative youth (35), but regardless of what constitutes the “true Harold’s”, they’ve been a constant throughout my life and they’ll be sorely missed.

Samantha

April 27th, 2012
10:31 am

I hope Billy Branyon reads all these comments. And other restaurant owners too. And then I hope they quit blaming the economy for their failures.

HCCynic

April 27th, 2012
10:32 am

@ Seannon, 35 years in the City and having lived up and down Boulevard? Ummm, that a’int passing for a native Atlantian, Sir, you have EARNED your residency; Well done!!!

I grew up in Forest Park back in the ’60’s and Harold’s was not that far from our home. Actually, just an easy drive up Hwy 54, Jonesboro Road.

I join you in saying “they’ve been a constant throughout my life and they’ll be sorely missed.”

Have a great weekend!

Oh, one last thought, Have you tried Fresh Air Barbeque down in Flovilla (just south of jackson on Hwy 42)? If not, give it a try as it too is an old style barbeque joint with gravel in the parking lot, and an open pit over which to smoke the hams.

Regards,

Times Change

April 27th, 2012
10:56 am

I’ll miss Harold’s, but it is not the place it was twenty, ten or even two years ago. Some things just die slowly.

David Erwin

April 27th, 2012
11:11 am

My Dad took me there on several occassions and then took my kids there. It actually chokes me up to hear this as I have now brought my step daughters there. Read many negative comments but for me it still means something. My dad’s name was Harold and that was always a good connection back to him. It will be missed. I am going to take a day off of work next week to make it there.

Gwenola Grier

April 27th, 2012
12:01 pm

After the passing of the owner, the food was awful. I worked in the area and would purchase a meal or two. My last visit was the last. I have found another BBQ place that makes you want to bite your fingers off the food is so good. Bye Harold’s

julia

April 27th, 2012
12:50 pm

My mom worked there when I was a young child and I remember the place as nasty

Me Too

April 27th, 2012
3:08 pm

Sorry to see Harold’s go. From Coca-Cola, a group of us would go to Harold’s about every two weeks in 90’s. It was good then. My wife, whose family was from the Lakewood area, and I would sometimes go to the drive-in part in the 60’s. It was great then.

Madallerton

April 27th, 2012
3:10 pm

Today was the worst i have ever had at Harolds
They gave me SCRAP PORK with 4 pieces if cornbread DRIED OUT no Brunswick Stew and 1/10 of a cup of SLAW (2) people $30.00 shold have been $5.00
Do Not Waste Your Time… They Are Broke

Me Too

April 27th, 2012
3:16 pm

Gwenola what is the name of the place?

HCCynic Fresh Air has been my favorite place in Georgia for about 10 years. It opened in the late 20’s.

Baltisraul

April 27th, 2012
3:41 pm

Welll it seems like the whole city knew it was bad except for the kids running the joint.

Lisa Hembree Ison

April 27th, 2012
3:43 pm

…My Father Lee Hembree was the youngest son of Harold Sr. ( who died in 1958)… Lee left the Atl. Harold’s in 1990 and opened up the Jonesboro store . Then in 2001, I bought the Jonesboro Harold’s from Lee. The Jonesboro store was always clean, the staff was friendly , neat and very efficient and the food was great. I chose to close the store in 2008 and now live in Fl. I too miss the Harold’s of my childhood…but it has never been the same since my grandmother ” Mama Hugh ” passed in 2007

Casey S

April 27th, 2012
4:19 pm

Used to save my lunch Money for some stew. Was last there in 07. Took my dad before he died. It was still good then. Hate to hear these negative remarks about the way it ended. Truly a legacy.

worm

April 27th, 2012
4:38 pm

I worked on Capitol Ave. at Tommy Johnson’s Graphic Arts Service Co. in the 60’s. We had lunch from Harold’s at least once a week and sometimes two or three times a week, and they were the bomb I’ve never had better BBQ and stew and burgers. I was in the area a couple of years ago and stopped in for old times sake, and just like everybody is saying, it was terrible. I was hungry and I just couldn’t eat that crap.

HCCynic

April 27th, 2012
4:43 pm

@ Mrs. Ison – Please know that we, the native sons and daughters of Atlanta, loved, LOVED, the Harold’s Barbeque of our youth. Please do not mis-read our lament of Harold’s demise as a reflection of your family, it is not in any way, shape or form. I will forever treasure the meals I shared with family and friends in your restaurants, and wish you well in your retirement.

Be it Atlanta or Jonesboro, I was no stranger, and I did my best to get my money’s worth from your “all you can eat’ special. .

Here’s hoping I find a plate of the Original Harold’s and all the fixings waiting for me on the other side, when my day comes. Pair that up with a slice of my Grandmother’s old fashioned pound cake and i will indeed be in Heaven.

Robert

April 27th, 2012
4:58 pm

Harold’s was the best BBQ in town. No doubt in my mind.

Art

April 27th, 2012
5:12 pm

It’s always hard to watch the demise of what once was a fine institution. RIP Harolds! Loved the stew and cornbread.

Carolyn

April 27th, 2012
7:23 pm

I believe this business died when Harold past away. I am sad. They opened up two location in Henry County and failed. The food was still good, but the service and attitude was horrible. Chef Ramsey could have not saved them. Thank you Harold for the memories.

Dixie L.

April 27th, 2012
7:40 pm

In 1955 my sister Joann got me a job at Harolds…I went to Fulton Hight School and this job paid my way…Senior Harold was living and called me “little bit”..I worked there for three years and until I married and moved away…In later years I filled in for Mama Hugh…Sixty five years speaks for itself..It was a family owned and opperated and did exactly what Harold and Hugh wanted…to take care of their family….I will miss knowing that I cant return for an inside , sliced pork and a cup of stew..Thanks to all of the Hembrees….I will always say Harolds was the best……..

southernwaytransport

April 27th, 2012
11:02 pm

Been going there 30+ years, almost all my life I can remember. Have heard stories of Harold’s dating all the way back to my Grandfather’s time hanging around there in the 1960’s. Sorry to see it go. But still miss Old Hickory House more. Put Some South In Your Mouth. Best BBQ now is beef ribs at Brickery Sandy Springs or Williamson Bros pretty good.

PTC DAWG

April 27th, 2012
11:31 pm

Thanks for the memories.

Robin Collins

April 27th, 2012
11:40 pm

My husband started going to Harold’s in about 1958. We live in Carrollton but he took his sons and I there whenever we went to a Braves game. The AJC reported that they were closing next week. We went today for a last meal. The manager, encouraged by recent customers, said they would close when business ran out. So if you like Harold’s you’d better get there fast!!! The area is being ‘gentrified’. If they can hang on a bit longer I think the neighborhood will get better and they can continue.

prattvillenolzfan

April 28th, 2012
12:09 am

First Lewis, then Furman, Now Harold’s…..Lewis is definately turning over in his grave..

bill

April 28th, 2012
5:52 am

robin, have u not read any of these posts? 99% have nothing to do with the neighborhood or the economy or carpooling…they have to do with an owner that’s in over his head running a restaurant…an owner that failed to meet even the most minimum customer expectations regarding food quality and service….that’s why “business ran out” and that’s why Harold’s won’t be able to “hang on a bit longer”.

Baltisraul

April 28th, 2012
7:43 am

bill………you got it right , son! The I don’t care attitude of Harold’s of late was the cause, nothing else!

Jack

April 28th, 2012
9:10 am

I will tell you whats sad…. I remember a full parking lot, a wait for a table, waitresses that were attentive, a bowl of Lay’s potatoe chips on every table, NEVER running out of anything and good quality food. Sadly last time I went… no cars, no wait, no people, no service, no cracklins in the dry cornbread, no Lay’s, no pork( ran out at 1pm?) how does that even happen? The neighborhood, economy and carpooling had nothing to do with the demise of this great place. My only hope is that someone who knows what they are doing or who cares will re-open it and run it the right way… the way it used to be run before this idiot ran it in the ground!!!

Carter Burger

April 28th, 2012
10:43 am

Funny how people want to blame the economy when they are the ones responsible. The quality of the place has tanked since Harold died. For the true reason the place is closing, Mr Branyon needs only to look in the mirror.

Kathy Lawrence

April 28th, 2012
1:25 pm

To all of you disgrutal so called patrons~~~You know, my Mother always taught me that if you couldn’t say something good, just don’t say anything at all!! There is a reason for “Harold’s Barbeque” longevity in Atlanta. If it was all that bad, why did it last so long?…..just saying. Let Harold’s Barbeque bow out gracefully!!

Living in the neighborhood

April 28th, 2012
2:05 pm

This place has been relying on its previous laurels. It was great once, but as of very recently, the food was quite disgusting– as it, virtually inedible. It was an institution once long ago, but given the current level of food and service, its closing is long overdue. What is sad is not that it’s closing, but that it has deteriorated to such a poor state.

Baltisraul

April 28th, 2012
3:35 pm

Kathy Lawrence……people are giving kudo’s to the “old” Harolds, as they should. People are upset that the person now running the resturant does not have a clue. All that tried Harold’s in the good days wish it was still going to be around. That family did not respect the great tradition. The food service industry is hard and even well run places go under. If you don’t respect your own product and your customers, you get what you asked for!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Art

April 28th, 2012
3:59 pm

@Baltisraul, well said!

Nancy

April 28th, 2012
4:52 pm

Loved Harold’s since 1943. I now live in Ohio and visit my friend in Newnan every summer and the first thing after getting off the plane is heading for Harold’s. We will certainly miss it. There are no other sandwiches and stew
like it.

Newcomer

April 28th, 2012
10:46 pm

No need for negative comments. Those of us that grew up in Lakewood know what Harold’s meant to Atlanta. Even Lewis Grizzard who grew up in Sprayberry country said it was the best BBQ in the South! Ms. Hugh and Harold gave us many great memories over the years! We will miss you Harold’s, thank you for your time and the best BBQ in the South!

Susie Q

April 29th, 2012
12:03 am

Started going here back in the 70s with my grandparents and it was a treat and I loved always seeing the cops there which made for safe dining in a not so safe area. My hubby and I both grew up eating there and decided to take our kids to try it. By then the food was OK but not what it once was. We went after work one night, terrible food, horrible device and I spent the remainder of 2 days sick. 2 years ago I might have been sad but now, it’s a long overdue goodbye. Like a family member who kept trying to hang on…

Baltisraul

April 29th, 2012
8:35 am

Newcomer…….Of course there is room for negative comments !!!!!!!!!!!!! When you see a crime committed, like the one at Harold’s, you speak out.

Rod

April 29th, 2012
1:04 pm

To Davester: Look you snotty nose punk, probably all you’ve ever eaten is Mcdonalds or Burger King or maybe The Krystal, you wouldn’t know good food if it hit you in the face anyway. You need to learn to keep your mouth shut until you know what you’re talking about. I agree that probably poor management put it under at the end but Harold’s Bar-BQ has never always sucked, it couldn’t have and lasted 65 years stupid !

Baltisraul

April 29th, 2012
1:25 pm

Rod…..you are right, Harold’s was good for a long, long time! 65 yrs speaks volumns!!

thomas r. pork

April 29th, 2012
3:13 pm

I think everyone missed the boat. For a long-thriving business to suddenly go under is usually due to poor mgmt. or possibly even factors.beyond their control. For sure the area has not been a positive for a long time. Usually poor mgmt. is due to inexperience, lack of ability, lack of enthusiasm or apathy. My guess is the last two had more to do with it than anything else. I don’t believe that if I had grown up in a family living off of a successful BBQ place that I would have a lot of ambition in that area after 60 years of hearing it every day and night. Good luck to the relatives in whatever direction they choose to go.

Another point–in the South our true BBQ is not found in a spic & span, aluminum & steel shiny little palace with microphones & waitresses who won’t answer to the names Sugar or Honey. Better a little hole-in-the-wall with a couple of tables & sawdust on the floor. Oh yeah, the floor is where you throw your peanut shells so be careful walking. If you don’t care for that kinda atmosphere, I recommend Sonny’s or perhaps a fancy version of McRib !@#$%^&

Bwanadevil

April 29th, 2012
4:02 pm

I used to live off of Miller Reed, and Harold’s was just about the only thing going that wasn’t fast food.
I had been a fan before I moved there, but became addicted when it was so close.
Over the years, after I’d moved, would still hear the siren song of that stew and the chopped pork sandwich! A cryin’ shame that they are closing…and I think I might be crying for myself for missing opportunities in the past when it seemed just a little too far. Those regrets will continue to well up; now and after I make my final pilgrimage. God Bless and thanks for all the great food and good times! YOU WILL BE MISSED!

Baltisraul

April 29th, 2012
5:50 pm

tomas r. pork…….I would not wish Sonny’s on my worst enemy but I know what you mean! If the truth would be known, peanuts on the floor at Sonny’s would not help that food!

Scott

April 29th, 2012
6:13 pm

Ate at Harolds at least twice a week for 12 years. My boss grew up with Mr. Harold and when he passed in 2008 whoever began running it ran it into the ground. It was old but clean but it became dirty, flies everywhere and just no taste. the stew remained excellent but I was almost embarassed for Mr. Harold if he knew what his resturant had turned into. It was not carpooling and economy, just poor service and a decline in quality.

Karl

April 29th, 2012
9:25 pm

I have lived in Atlanta for 25 years. I went to Harolds. Once. Probably around 1992-93. The person that convinced me to go was a diehard Georgia and Lewis Grizzard fan. Food was marginal at best, service wasn’t anything to be remembered, and I was somewhat cautious about my entry and egress between my car and the restaurant. I love BBQ and consider myself at least a competent judge of general BBQ quality. It was very underwhelming, even without taking into account the hype that was given before arriving. The stew was watery and crappy, the cornbread was bland and dry, and the BBQ meat was nothing special at all. Now, 25 years later, SOUNDS LIKE THIS PLACE IS GETTING ITS JUST DESSERTS. Good riddance, maybe they can turn it into a superfund project and CREATE a few jobs to clean it up.

Bob t.

April 29th, 2012
10:50 pm

I’ve gone to Harold’s for years and years, and I loved the stew and cornbread, and it could compete with the best of them until just the past two or three years. I was there about 2 months ago, and they were out of everything, except for the stew and cornbread. I agree with the writer about Fox Bros. I went one time, and that was enough for me. Goodbye old friend. I loved you when you were on top.

Dawged

April 30th, 2012
7:56 am

I am sad to hear of another icon of Atlanta history fading away.I was a regular at Harolds starting in the early 70’s till the late 90’s.I use to take customers and visitors from the North there for a taste of true Southern BBQ,The stew and the cracklin” cornbread were legend.I also enjoyed the one in Joneboro althought the food was good it did not have the same atmosphere or friendly staff as the original.One of my distributors who ate there every Friday with several of his employees would furnish Harolds BBQ at his annual inventory..As vendors who normally avoid a inventory like the plauge if possible-we would fight for a spot at that one …for the enjoyment of partaking in the catered lunch by Harolds.My son retuned from school in Boston recently and I picked him and his girlfriend up at the airport.It was on a Friday.I decided to give them a treat for lunch and tried Harolds.The first thing I noticed was in the middle of lunch it was not crowded.Bad sign.In my regular days I always tried to get there by 11:00 am to get a table.If not you were in for a wait(worth it then).Sadly the food,service and cleanliness were not what I had once known.The prices were extremely high for BBQ and the people there were downright surly.I am not surprised they have failed…but am sad that it has come about.

Amy Vallejo

April 30th, 2012
9:45 am

Jenny! Is it you from Stripling? I would love to talk to you!

BBQ

April 30th, 2012
1:24 pm

Apparently, they aren’t closing. May want to check in with them again…

Walter

April 30th, 2012
5:00 pm

They failed to run the place! Ever since Lee left, no one has actually run the restaurant. No cracklin in the cornbread (we can’t find it at the right price…well, they have had it for 65 years!), very thin cornbread or no cornbread (supplier didn’t send the ingredients), I’d like a Coke…they had a fight with Coca-Cola over the machine. It needs plumbing upgrades to work properly. We’re out of slaw…the supplier…, we’re out of napkins, the supplier didn’t…. For 65 years, Harold’s has been a gold mine for the community and the family. We don’t take credit cards anymore. Yeah, it costs them a couple of points but… The current manager is over his head. You gotta spend money to make money. Fix the Coke machine, pay the vendors for the cracklin, pay the vendor for the slaw, pay the vendor for the napkins.

Baltisraul

April 30th, 2012
5:47 pm

Walter…..well said. It worked for 60 plus years and now its everyone elses fault. Thats the voice of “failure”.

Rod

April 30th, 2012
7:37 pm

Can anyone tell me if Harolds is all ready closed,they said Thursday was going to be it but when you dial their phone # you get a recording saying the numbers been disconected and we were planing to go up there Wenesday from La Grange one last time for old time sake and that’s a long ways to drive to find out they’er all ready closed, can anyone tell me please ?

Baltisraul

May 1st, 2012
9:22 am

Rod…….I can understand you wanting to go to Harold’s one last time. Based on the above posts, you may not want this to be your last memory! You know what they say, “you can never go back”.

Shimm

May 1st, 2012
11:38 am

The Governor used to eat at Harold’s all the time. I’m sure the gun toting clown behind the counter couldn’t figure out why the State Troupers guarding the Governor are nervous. Seen the Governor there lately?

Baltisraul

May 1st, 2012
11:47 am

Shimm……….the owner wears a side arm at Harold’s? WOW!

Well Rod, that should just about do it for your return trip to Harold’s from LaGrange!!!!!

Baltisraul

May 1st, 2012
12:26 pm

Shimm……the gun toting owner did not learn that trick at the elbow of Edna Lewis is my guess.

CDW

May 2nd, 2012
2:25 pm

I’m glad they’ve gotten a reprieve just for the same of tradition, but I was completely unimpressed when I went a few years ago. My dad had told me for YEARS it was the best in Atlanta; unfortunately I found it lacking. I will go waaay off the beaten path for good BBQ, but I wouldn’t have gone back to Harolds if they were down the block from me. And it has nothing to do with the location, the economy or carpooling.

Atl..Native

May 2nd, 2012
4:18 pm

Fox Bros. is the NASTIEST food in town. DISGUSTING. Look at the owners and the chef and tell me that food is good for you….. NOT. I wish they would go back to Texas.

Glad to see Harold’s is getting a reprieve. It is delicious LOCAL food.

[...] this time last week, it looked like Harold’s Barbecue would close its doors permanently. Since the closing was reported, Harold’s has experienced a surge in business with [...]

Jack

May 2nd, 2012
9:47 pm

Lets dont mistake a “reprive” with people going there one last time before it closes. I refused to fall into this trap. My guess is all who went had a horrible experience compared to the good old days and wont be going back ( notice nobody on this site has said “went there today and was great”?) Unless there is a complete 360 degree change of philosophy and food quality and service quality this guy is just delaying the inevitable. Hope I’m wrong but bet i’m not. Get back to good quality and people will come…. and not just to say goodbye….

bill

May 2nd, 2012
10:51 pm

have to agree with Jack, except i think he meant to say 180 deg change.

[...] this time last week, it looked like Harold’s Barbecue would close its doors permanently. Since the closing was reported, Harold’s has experienced a surge in business with [...]

biscuit

May 3rd, 2012
9:59 am

The same as if the Varsity were closing. An oldtime Atlanta institution and source of many a comforting and mouthwatering meal. Hope they can fix the problems and stay open.

HCCynic

May 3rd, 2012
11:04 am

I am still waiting on someone to post an update as to the current state of affairs down at harold’s. Is the food editable this week? Before I go and risk my memories of their glorious past, I want to hear that they are doing it “right”.

Now, on a cynical note, as is my nature, I must ask, “Was the AJC’s posting of this story a week before the closing, a sly way of helping out an old Atlanta friend round up a treasure of visits for “old times sake”? Visits for “old times sake” that will help pay the bills and send Harold’s out with a clear bank ledger?

If it is or was, cudos to the AJC; this is the first decent thing you folks have done since forever; Luko’s tributes to Lewis, Furman, and 9/11 not withstanding.