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Pit masters: Southern Red’s BBQ

Restaurant serves up smoked pork and ribs, ribeye steaks with sides and desserts, catering too

Southern Red’s BBQ may be “in the middle of nowhere,” as co-owner Fred Seavers says, but customers would agree it’s worth the drive. A recent review: “Hands down the best BBQ and ribs I’ve ever eaten.”

Pilot Oak is a small farming community of about 350 people, located about 17 miles south of Mayfield off State Route 94 West. The business, with a staff of 14, is served by West Kentucky RECC.

Fred and Belinda Seavers, along with son Micah and wife, Kimberly, moved back home in 2007 to help care for Fred’s parents. Since they had been in the barbecue business since 1998, they naturally opened a barbecue restaurant in the decades-old Pilot Oak Grocery in southern Graves County. The grocery was actually owned in the early 1980s by his dad, Fred Seavers Jr.

Try the recipe for Southern Red’s BBQ Award Winning Chili. Photo: Cassy Basham
Try the recipe for Southern Red’s BBQ Award Winning Chili. Photo: Cassy Basham
Southern Red’s BBQ is in the old Pilot Oak Grocery store located in Graves County. Photo: Cassy Basham
“Hope Y'all Came Hungry,” is the slogan at Southern Red’s BBQ, Pilot Oak, Kentucky. Photo: Southern Red’s BBQ
Southern Red’s BBQ is also known for their ribeye and New York strip steaks on the grill. Photo: Southern Red’s BBQ
Southern Red’s also serves southern fried catfish. Photo: Southern Red’s BBQ
Southern Red’s BBQ is known for their catering business. Photo: Southern Red’s BBQ
Four Southern Red’s BBQ sauces will soon be available for purchase on their website. Photo: Southern Red’s BBQ

Try the recipe:

Southern Red’s BBQ Award Winning Chili

Micah “Red” Seavers, shown at top, began working in the business at age 13. He manages all facets of the business, and says “I love talking with the customers.” He and Fred, also an evangelist, run the pit, while Belinda handles catering with the help of Kimberly.

Customers look forward to the smoked pork, chicken, brisket and ribs, as well as their famous ribeye steaks, desserts and sides. “The homemade Hawgwaller (Butterfinger candy bar, chocolate and lots of ooey-gooey stuff) and strawberry cake are dessert favorites,” says Belinda. Many of the recipes are from Fred and Belinda’s parents.

“We serve over a ton of meat a week,” says Fred, between the restaurant and the catering business. “We have great workers. Our kitchen will go through 250-300 plates in a two- to three-hour period during crunch time,” says Fred. “Seth Fulcher, our grill cook and kitchen manager, started out working here as a kid doing dishes and has been with us for eight years.”

What’s Southern Red’s secret?

Their pit secret is using locally-cut hardwoods, says Fred, which has a better smokiness to it. “We don’t put sauce on our barbecue. Our ribs are rubbed, then smoked in the pit. The favorite in our area is to add coleslaw on our sandwiches, and we add our Southern Red’s Sweet Sauce to the plate,” he says.

Southern Red’s also makes four types of barbecue sauce. They are in the middle of lining up a new bottler, so their sauce should be available again on their website in the next three to six months, says Belinda.

“Baked beans are our special recipe, our potato salad is Fred’s mom’s recipe. When you get mashed potatoes, they are the real deal,” says Belinda. “For catering, the favorite side item is our Cheezy Potatoes. It’s a hash-brown casserole, using real potatoes, with my twist on it.”

Need a catered Thanksgiving meal with smoked turkey and all the fixin’s? Micah says, “Last year, we cooked over 430 turkeys, and over 350 gallon of homemade mashed potatoes.” Catered meals come with everything from rolls to desserts and sweet tea, as well as Belinda’s homemade cornbread dressing.

Micah says some people place their orders almost a year ahead. Orders must be in at least 10 days prior to Thanksgiving. The last date you can order for this year is November 16. Catered Thanksgiving meals are available all week and on Thanksgiving Day.

Southern Red’s also serves breakfast on Saturdays, with all the old country regulars: bacon, biscuits, omelettes and pancakes.

He adds, “We don’t always have enough seats for people and there are times that people sit together. They enjoy each other and they have fun.” The restaurant can seat 75, and there are five picnic tables outside.

Belinda says, “We want to make sure when people come to our restaurant, they have the best meal possible. Red greets every person. We are very service oriented. People are greeted when they come in and when they go out, and we make sure they’ve had a good meal.”

Catering all size groups, Thanksgiving Day too

The catering part of the business is the restaurant’s mainstay says Belinda. They cater both small to very large groups.

Need a catered Thanksgiving meal with smoked turkey and all the fixin’s? Micah says, “Last year, we cooked over 430 turkeys, and over 350 gallon of homemade mashed potatoes.” Catered meals come with everything from rolls to desserts and sweet tea, as well as Belinda’s homemade cornbread dressing.

Micah says some people place their orders almost a year ahead. Orders must be in at least 10 days prior to Thanksgiving. The last date you can order for this year is November 16. Catered Thanksgiving meals are available all week and on Thanksgiving Day.

Because Southern Red’s BBQ is a community-based business, Micah says, the decisions they make are community oriented. “Without the people, we wouldn’t have a business. Food brings people together.”

Southern Red’s restaurant is open Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m.–10 p.m., serving breakfast. Catering is available seven days a week.

Southern Red’s BBQ
5085 State Route 94 West
Pilot Knob, Kentucky 42085
Facebook: Southern Red’s BBQ
(270) 376-2678


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