GILMER COUNTY, Ga. — An icon is closing in north Georgia that has been a focal point for political candidates for more than three decades.
Oscar and Edna Poole first opened Poole’s BBQ in 1989 in a trailer home in East Ellijay. The retired pastor-turned-restaurateur was known for his connections to the Republican Party and the yellow suit and top hat he wore to campaign rallies.
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Edna, his wife of 70 years, remembers how this suit came about.
“He saw Col. Sanders in this white suit and said, ‘I’m going to get a yellow suit.’ I laughed. I thought, ‘I can’t believe he’s going to wear a solid yellow suit,’ but he did,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish. She would have a matching one made later.
Before Col. Poole, as he was known, passed away in 2020, his son Darvin took over the business in 2008. The restaurant has served politicians and celebrities alike over the years.
“Father has many pictures on the wall and we wanted to do them again. But we didn’t know what to leave and what to cut. So many things are just iconic to Dad and what he believed in and the people he met and saw. So we just let it go,” he says.
It was his father who started the Pig Hill of Fame.
“That’s the number one reason people stop, because people see all the pigs on the hill. It’s clearly visible from the four-lane highway and is a blessing,” says Poole.
Many politicians who have frequented the restaurant over the years have their names on this hill. Many were invited to a campaign at the restaurant by longtime Gilmer County GOP supporter Joe McCutchen, who was a close friend of the elder Poole.
“In 1992 Pat Buchanan came here and he almost beat Bush. He got 30 percent. And brought the world press here,” says McCutchen.
Poole’s is closing after 33 years so Darvin and his wife can retire to spend more time with their three grandchildren, who live three hours away.
Edna, who is happy that her son is continuing the place that she and her husband have built, understands.
“We worked hard to launch it. And I’m a little sad, but I know my son has to retire,” she says.
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The family would love it if someone else bought it and kept the name and the same great BBQ, but Darvin understands if that doesn’t happen.
“We would like to thank all of our customers. It was great fun meeting people. And I met some of my best friends that I have now at the BBQ. So that was an added blessing on top of everything else,” he says.
The restaurant is open this weekend and then closes its doors permanently on Saturday 26 November at 16:00.
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