Bill Ellis BBQ

Bill’s Barbeque and Chicken restaurant was in Downing Street. It is in Wilson in North Carolina. It is easily one of the best barbeque restaurants in the area. It was however forced to close after being operational for 55 years. The restaurant was completely home-grown. All the workers were from Wilson. It was a well-known restaurant in the United States. People came to eat Bill’s pork BBQ from all over the nation.
The Founder
The restaurant was started by Bill Ellis. He was born in the early 1930s. Wilson was his birthplace and home all his life. Bill is said to have been a hardworking man. He grew up finding ways to help his family and friends out of hard times.
Bill Ellis started his enterprise in 1963. He began with one hot dog stand. The first location was on the outskirts of Wilson. The business grew with his guidance. He started the restaurant when it could seat 26 people. It was quickly a favorite of the locals. It became one of Wilson’s well-known landmarks. With time, Ellis came to own a hog farm. This was because he wanted to control what he served. Owning a hog farm meant the quality of his meat was in his hands.
He retired in 2015. By then he owned;
· The restaurant. It could seat 850 people at one time.
· A fleet of catering trucks, which delivered food to various parts of the region.
· A convention center. This covered 18,000 square feet.
· A hog farm
Bill died in 2017. He was 83 years old at the time. The cause of his death was listed as complications from a hip that was broken.
After his death, his wife took care of the business. The widow, Tracy Ellis, received help from family members of both sides. They ran the restaurant for a few more years before they faced problems with its operations.

The Restaurant

The restaurant is known in the catering industry. It offered catering services to locals and interested parties in America. It was also a great pig pickin’ station.

Because of the many orders from all over the country, Bill had to get shipping trucks. These delivered Bill’s barbecue to vendors wherever they were.

The restaurant suffered greatly from hurricanes. It was flooded by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Before that, it faced Hurricane Floyd in 1999.


The restaurant had to close in 2019. This was after operating for about 56 years. By the time it was closing, there were more than 50 employees working there. A statement was released by Tanya Neville. She was Bill Ellis’s sister-in-law. The decision to close the restaurant was a long time coming. It was however done in a very abrupt manner. In the statement, Neville thanked their employees and customers. She expressed gratitude for their help through the years.

The family held a meeting to discuss the future of the restaurant. When they saw a bleak and somewhat nonexistent one, they opted to close it immediately. The next day, a meeting was held with the employees in attendance. They were informed that Bill’s restaurant was closing. The decision was arrived at after three years of struggling with the restaurant’s future.

In her statement, Neville said that Bill had tried to sell the restaurant in his final years. He wanted some form of security after he left the business. She said that they had discussed options of what to do. She also said that Bill had attempted to sell the restaurant. She assured the employees that the decision to close the restaurant was not made on a whim. It was a carefully thought out plan that they had discussed over a long period of time.

Ownership of the restaurant went to his widow. Tracy Ellis has held on to the properties. The land and buildings remain standing.

However, there was good news for the locals. The family found a way to keep Bill’s recipes going. A few family members decided to re-enter the franchise. This was in the form of Marty’s barbecue.

Marty’s Barbecue

Lawrence Ellis is Bill Ellis’s son. He inherited his father’s passion for the barbecue world. Together with his business partner, they have created a new barbecue establishment.

The restaurant is named in honor of the late Marty Ellis. Marty’s Barbecue is in Wilson in North Carolina. Lawrence has followed in his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps. He began with an idea that waited two years to be actualized. Just as his father found a hot dog stand, Lawrence found a boarded-up convenient store. They built it up to become a well-known establishment.

Marty’s Barbecue is also a family business. It lives up to the Ellis name in the menu and ambiance.

Life After Bill’s Barbecue

More than 50 employees had to be let go from the restaurant when it closed. The restaurant had established itself as a family-oriented establishment. The employees were all locals. They felt like family to each other.

When the restaurant closed, the Ellis family paid the employees. This allowed them to remain afloat as they searched for other opportunities. The family was active in paying insurance, which went a long way in helping their employees out.

The care and support offered to the employees after closure was great. It helped the employees get on their feet. It also allowed for the maintenance of the legacy that Bill Ellis had built from nothing. The name of Bill Ellis remains that of a hardworking man. It reminds of a man who put family first and built a franchise to be applauded.

Closing Bill’s Barbecue and Chicken was a sad thing for the town of Wilson. Those who knew him describe the closing as the second death of Bill’s. Residents of Wilson have grown and depended on the restaurant. It provides them with food and even employment opportunities. It was a sad day for all Wilsonians. Luckily, the family has managed to offer an alternative in Marty’s Barbecue. The latter remains a brilliant restaurant. Marty’s Barbecue is what the locals and lovers of Bill’s Barbecue are using to remember the good old days.