Hill’s Lexington Barbecue has closed for good after 68 years in business in Winston-Salem.
The closing of Hill’s, at 4005 N. Patterson Avenue, was confirmed this week by Eugene S. “Slugger” Hill Jr., whose family has owned the restaurant since its inception.
“Due to the changing times it was in our best interest to put an end to an era,” Hill said in an email.
The restaurant closed Dec. 24 for the holidays and never reopened. On Dec. 28, Eugene Sink Hill Sr., Slugger Hill’s father, passed away at age 87.
Gene Hill’s father, Joe Allen Hill, came to Winston-Salem from Lexington and opened Hill’s in 1951 with his wife, Edna. Hill’s claimed to be the first restaurant to use the term “Lexington Barbecue” in its name. It originally was a drive-in restaurant, according to Jim Early in “The Best Tarheel Barbecue From Murphy to Manteo.”
Gene Hill went to work for his parents as soon as he graduated from high school and eventually took over running the business. Later, Slugger Hill took over most day-to-day operations as the general manager.
Early claimed in his book that Hill’s had some of the best barbecue in Winston-Salem. He also said Gene Hill told him Hill’s was the first to offer barbecue salad on the menu.
Hill’s had not done as much business in recent years. It did not market itself on social media, and traffic on that part of Patterson Avenue had declined to the point that many Winston-Salem diners didn’t even know Hill’s existed.
Slugger Hill said that the decision to close had been in the works for a while, and, with the loss of his father, the time seemed right. He expressed gratitude to Hill’s many loyal customers over the years. “The memories will last for a lifetime,” he said.