MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Heard’s Best Barbecue Ever, located in the Morgantown Mall food court, prides itself on being able to serve southern-style recipes to its customers.
Owner Charlie Heard said he has been cooking for roughly 30 years, since he moved to Morgantown to join the West Virginia University wrestling team.
“Once I got here I didn’t have any way of making money, so I started cooking my southern barbecue to be able to earn money,” Heard said. “Found out people really loved what we were doing and it just carried from there.”
Heard opened up his restaurant in the mall in January and before that he had a food truck he operated for about four years, offering the same food.
He said the restaurant, like the food truck before it, puts a lot of love into everything they make. That is evident when you realize that all the barbecue is prepared for 30 or more hours. Heard said that includes seasoning using a secret blend of ingredients, letting the meat marinate overnight and then finally grilling it outside.
The menu is not just barbecue — it is entrenched with southern comfort food.
“Pulled pork is number one, number two is the brisket, which we marinade in a special brine.,” Heard said. “We not only make the brisket itself but we do a change off and make a steak hoagie with the brisket with pepper jack cheese and sharp cheddar. Those are two of the most famous ones, and then the next one will be the chicken sandwiches, you have barbecue rib dinner and then the fried food menu we do just as much of our southern fried food as we do our barbecue. We have fried catfish, fried whiting, deep-fried chicken wings, those are some of the items that we get a lot of requests from the football team and the basketball team.”
Heard’s Best Barbecue Ever is a dream for the owner, but one that the COVID-19 pandemic almost ruined. After only being open for a few months he was forced to shut down, however, in May the restaurant reopened and things are picking up again.
“It’s awesome — awesome,” Heard said. “The most important thing, like I said, the most beautiful thing is to come out and meet people and I love, love people. And to get a chance to come out and meet them, see my customers and talk to them, that’s the most important thing right there. Even if I don’t sell a meal it’s a joy to go out there and just hang out with the people. But we’re moving forward a little at a time.”
Heard said the plan is to open four stores by the end of the year because there is a high demand for his food in other areas. He said he plans on opening at least one in Morgantown, one in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, one in Parkersburg and another in Fairmont. In addition, he said he is looking to expand into the food distribution business.
Right now, Heard said, he is working with a restaurant chain in New Jersey that wants to use his recipe in their restaurants. In the meantime, he said he is happy to have his business operating again and to be able to serve food he loves making.
“I’m enjoying what I’m doing, I put a lot of love in it, I put a lot of time in it,” Heard said.