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At Edley’s, barbecue’s smokin’

Blues music plays, chairs skid across the floors, people chat and the spatulas hit the skillets at the newest barbecue joint in the 12 South area.

Edley’s, with its big open windows and rustic wood exterior, invites hungry customers to relax and enjoy slow-roasted Memphis-style barbecue and homemade sides.

But it’s more than just a restaurant; the barbecue industry is a lifestyle for owner Will Newman.

“Everybody has fond memories of friends, families and just relaxation when you think of barbecue,” he said.

Newman was studying law at University of Alabama when he realized he didn’t want to practice.

“I started thinking about what could I do to have fun and make a nice living,” he said.

That’s when barbecue and Nashville, the city where he met his wife, came into the picture. On Nov. 22, 2011, the food haven opened. It’s specialty: local, daily roasted meat.

Each night at 8 p.m., employees put meat on the roaster, tucked in a corner of the open kitchen, where it smokes for at least 12 hours. They use new meat each day, no freezing, no re-heating.

“So we have to guess how much meat we’ll need,” Newman said.

Sometimes, they guess wrong.

“It still happens from time to time when we’ll just sell out of meat,” he said.

They follow the daily trends to help their estimates, going through about 100 butts a week from local hogs. But they don’t turn up the heat just for pork; chicken, turkey and beef brisket are also smoked and roasted.

But the meat isn’t the only part of the meal.

“We take a lot of pride in our sides,” Newman said.

The next best thing he said on the menu was fried okra.

“We’re probably one of the few restaurants in town that uses fresh okra and we fry it to order,” he said.

Even collard greens, the veggie dish most children try to feed to the dog, is prepared fresh.

“We spend more in labor in the actual collard green process because it takes forever to go through and peel all that,” he said.

To prepare the collard greens, one must remove the stem from the middle of each leaf, then roll multiple leaves together and slice.

All the recipes come from the owners, chefs, mothers and friends.

“If we thought something was really great, we used the recipe,” Hawley said.

Although there is plenty of competition from the city’s barbecue places, some stepped up to lend a hand – like Pat Martin, owner of Nolensville’s Martin’s BBQ.

“He’s helped out and given advice and stopped in and seen if we needed anything,” Newman said. “And that’s just what the whole barbecue culture and community is about.”

In the South, people take their barbecue seriously – especially from region to region. Here are a few unique styles to differentiate the regions of the country.

Barbecue for Dummies

+ Memphis

This city is known for its dry rubs, meaning dry ingredients slapped onto the raw meat. It is served with a sweet, thin sauce.

+ Texas

Another dry-rub region, Texas barbecue has a spicy kick to it – understandable due to its proximity to Mexico. It is served with a tomato-based sauce.

+ Carolinas

The Carolinas put emphasis on their pepper and vinegar flavor. They also use tomatoes to infuse flavor in the meat. It’s also usually served with hushpuppies.

+ Kansas City

Taking the best from other regions, this style uses spicy dry rub with thick, tangy sauce.

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