It’s probably not just us. I bet every food hobbyist will occasionally have a meal where the quality of the food will get overshadowed by the situation that surrounded it.
One of the most amusing stories of our travels came five years ago, when we took our very small son to Amos’s BBQ in the hills sort of near Ball Ground GA, and he had that Diaper Incident to End All Diaper Incidents that all very small children and their parents must suffer in public at least once. As feared, the specifics of the barbecue are completely lost to memory now, but oh, how we tell that tale.
I will not regale you with every detail of our long overdue trip to Chester’s. To sketch things very broadly, we’d walked for an hour at Columbus’s River Walk and then we sauntered another five blocks west to Veteran’s in the Memorial Day weekend heat rather than use the car, only to find the kitchen was very, very backed up and the lobby full of impatient, aggravated, and downright mad people.
This location of Chester’s is really a carry-out place, but they do have a little bit of seating along the windows. The people sitting in these stools or standing around with their arms crossed were not happy. One guy finally piped up to growl he’d been waiting 45 minutes. The air conditioning was escaping from the building as the door stayed propped open. I took Marie aside and suggested that she take the children across the street to the library and I’d join them later. Cooler air, cooler tempers.
This was the situation as our friend Cheryl pulled in. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, and she and I got to catch up for a little bit while waiting for my much simpler and smaller order. I figured it might be a while, but after they cleared the remaining very large orders and the very grouchy customers left, things started moving smoothly again and the tension in the atmosphere, the aura of unhappy frustration, eased considerably.
Chester’s was clearly having a bad day, but these things happen, and I try to live up to a credo: Open mind, kind heart. The food, as it turned out, was delicious and worth the short wait. The pork sandwich comes with a little of the mustard sauce that’s common in the area, and the stew is completely awesome, really thick and full of meat and corn. By the time I finished sampling my sandwich and stew, the crowd had departed almost completely, and Cheryl and I went over to the library to join my family, and she drove us to Iron Bank Coffee on 11th Street so we could all sit and talk for a while, and have the conversation that we might have had, if Chester’s had room inside for dining rather than just stools along the windows!
There are three locations of this small chain in the area. I believe that the original location is the one on Northstar Drive, which was an old neighborhood grocery store just outside the walls of Fort Benning. This carry-out facility came a little later, and a third store subsequently opened in Phenix City. I think the next time the road takes us to Columbus, we’ll go by the original grocery store. I’d love to learn more about the restaurant when everybody’s in a better mood!
Are you planning a barbecue road trip? You can see all the barbecue restaurants that we have visited for our blog (more than 380 !) on this map, with links back to the original blog posts!