Barbecue hole-in-the-wall quietly closes up shop and more local restaurant news

Staunton resident Jinx Kern says his favorite part of running his barbecue restaurant for 15 years was his customers. Jinx’s Pit’s Top Barbeque attracted a following of regulars to the tiny, lunch-only joint.  Photo: Nick Strocchia, Cramer photo Staunton resident Jinx Kern says his favorite part of running his barbecue restaurant for 15 years was his customers. Jinx’s Pit’s Top Barbeque attracted a following of regulars to the tiny, lunch-only joint. Photo: Nick Strocchia, Cramer photo

Barbecue hole-in-the-wall quietly closes up shop

Jinx Kern says the reasoning behind his decision to close Jinx’s Pit’s Top Barbeque is pretty simple: After running the hole-in-the-wall restaurant for a decade and a half he’s just straight-up tired. “I’m not 45 anymore, and it’s just a young man’s job,” he says. Plus, he says it’s become increasingly more difficult to distinguish himself and his brand among the ever-growing crop of barbecue joints in the area.

“There are just too many barbecue places now,” he says. “To most people, one barbecue is the same as the other—until they come to me. In this world of so many crummy barbecues all over the place, I’m allowed to say that.”

Jinx’s was an institution in Charlottesville for nearly 15 years. Kern, who’s known for both his gracious hospitality and unabashed bluntness, ran the tiny, lunch-only shack near the corner of Market Street and Meade Avenue alone. He has no qualms distinguishing himself as the purveyor of the best barbecue in town, but, unfortunately, being the best isn’t enough to keep the place running, especially with him living in Staunton.

“It’s been swimmin’ upstream for a long, long time,” he says, adding that it doesn’t make much sense to come all the way to Charlottesville, make almost no money and then come back over the mountain five days a week. “I’m not old yet, but to fight the way I’ve had to fight for so little in return, it’s not good for my health anymore.”

Asked why he kept it up for so long, Kern’s answer is simple: the people. Sure, he gets a kick out of preparing succulent smoked meats that barbecue-lovers flock to from as far as Texas, but, for the most part, the business was about the contact with his customers.

“I’ve been very lucky and very grateful to have all these people,” he says. “I really did love making the friends that I did. I got to socialize and make barbecue, and kill two birds with one stone.”

And that’s precisely why, when he finally decided to close up shop, he did so under the radar. He didn’t want a party or an emotionally charged goodbye in a restaurant overflowing with adoring fans. So, he told close friends and quietly closed the door.

Kern says a few loyal customers have “heroically” stepped up and offered to take over the business side so all he would do is make the barbecue, but he says he’s not holding his breath. If you absolutely can’t live without that succulent pulled pork, though, you might be able to twist his arm into catering your next party or event.

Winter wonderland

It may be 65 degrees in the middle of December, but in the food and drink world, it’s wintertime. Chefs are decking the halls with seasonal menus, breweries are rolling out winter beers, and holiday parties and events are popping up all over the place. We’ve rounded up just a few of the things you should know about as it (allegedly) gets cold outside.

All I want for Christmas is pie: Give the gift that keeps on giving. The Pie Chest is offering a Pie of the Month Club, and subscriptions can be for three, six or 12 months starting in January. The first three months’ pies include apple Southern comfort, dark chocolate cream and peanut butter with honey-roasted peanuts. For more information, visit or call the shop.

Tinsel Tuesday: Every Tuesday this month, Champion Brewing Company is playing a Christmas movie in a heated outdoor tent on the patio, with food from JM Stock Provisions. The final showing is Home Alone at 6:30pm on Tuesday, December 22.

Whiskey for winter: On Saturday, December 19, Virginia Distillery Company is hosting an all-day holiday event featuring live music and food from South Fork food truck. And in the spirit of the holiday season, the company will match dollar-for-dollar any donation you make to Nelson County Pantry.

Lights Out Holiday Ale: Blue Mountain Brewery’s classic holiday brew featuring Willamette hops and a bold spiciness is available through the end of December.

Make it to the market: It’s easy to forget that the City Market only runs through the end of the calendar year, especially if you’ve gotten used to strolling up and down the aisles of vendors for your eggs and produce every Saturday morning since April. But all good things must come to an end (for this year, at least), so you’ve only got a couple more weekends before the market closes until next spring.

Yuletide lesson: Try your hand at whipping up a Bûche de Noël for your holiday dinner. On Monday, December 21, the Charlottesville Cooking School is offering a 10am lesson on how to make a yule log, the classic French Christmas dessert featuring a bark made of ganâche and marzipan mushrooms. For more information, visitcharlottesville cookingschool.com/events/list.