Wednesday, February 13, 2013

BBQ To Go: President Obama Enjoys A Feast From '12 Bones' In Asheville, North Carolina

The $125 order included a selection of  Presidential favorites for a picnic aboard Air Force One while traveling home to Washington...
12 Bones Smokehouse in Asheville, North Carolina can lay claim in the history books to the title of First Official Presidential Takeout Order of President Obama's second term in office.  The Eater in Chief departed the little city on Wednesday with a $125 payload of pork baby back ribs and other delights after a very quick trip to Linamar Corporation to promote his State of the Union plans to boost US manufacturing.  The President and his staff enjoyed their feast aboard Air Force One "on the way back to Washington, DC.," a White House official said. (Above, during his remarks at Linamar)

"There are two things that keep bringing me back here," President Obama told the Linamar crowd after he toured the facility.  

"Number one is I really like the people.  And number two is 12 Bones, which I will be stopping on the way back to the airport."

An aide rather than the President made that stop as he finished up his fourth trip to Asheville since 2008.  12 Bones was on high alert for a visit, manager Chad Gibson told Obama Foodorama, because the President has enjoyed their scratch-made barbecue two of the three previous times he's visited the city.  That makes it twice as takeout, and once dining in with First Lady Michelle Obama at the joint's River Arts District location during a vacation in April of 2010.  

"The President has a great affinity for our food so whenever he's here we're prepared," Gibson said.

But they'd given up hope when no Secret Service agents arrived to take over either of 12 Bones two locations after the President landed.  And then an aide from the President's advance team called in the to-go order, and stopped by the River Arts 12 Bones to pick it up shortly after noon, Gibson said--making everyone's day.

The President's order included included twelve different plates of food, each with two sides and cornbread, Gibson said. Eight plates were half a rack of pork baby back ribs ($11.50 each), while the others were pulled pork ($6 each) and brisket ($7 each).  Gibson said that of course he doesn't know exactly which plate was destined for President Obama, but the order included his two favorite kinds of ribs, and his favorite sides.

"He's a big fan of our brown sugar-rubbed ribs," Gibson said, which are made with a dry rub.  "And he's also a fan of the blueberry chipotle ribs.  His favorite sides are collards and baked beans."

Gibson noted that Mrs. Obama's favorite sides are corn pudding and mac & cheese, which were both included in the President's to-go order. Other sides ordered included smoked potato salad, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet vinegar cole slaw and jalapeno cheese grits.

Aides traveling with the President aboard Air Force One who ostensibly dined on 12 Bones included Senior Advisors Valerie Jarrett and Dan Pfeiffer, Press Secretary Jay Carney, Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors, Cabinet secretary Chris Lu, and Jason Furman, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.

A longtime resident of Asheville and manager at 12 Bones for four years, Gibson said he was thrilled with President Obama's ongoing patronage.

"As a business, we don't pick sides," Gibson said.  "But personally I'm a big fan of the President, as are lots of the folks who work here.  To be spotlighted on the national stage is awesome."   

A big crowd had gathered outside the second 12 Bones location--situated close to the Asheville airport--after word rapidly spread that the President had announced he'd be dropping by on his way to board his plane.  The President's fans were disappointed that the Eater in Chief himself never appeared to do the pick-up. 

Criticism, Let's Move! and 12 Bones...
Unprompted, Gibson also defended 12 Bones' traditional Southern menu.  After the President and First Lady's 2010 visit, reporters publicly chastised the First Couple for eating what was perceived as fattening food while Mrs. Obama was promoting her Let's Move! childhood obesity campaign.  Gibson said the criticism was unfair, and 12 Bones makes "wholesome food."

"We caught some collateral damage after their visit," Gibson said.  "Our food was perceived as being unhealthful.  But it's wholesome and made from scratch. We use local vegetables and the best meat, and there are no preservatives or additives."

"It was unfair to us that some people used the opportunity to say that the Obamas were unhealthful."

When Mrs. Obama visited, her child obesity campaign was just three months old, but that kind of criticism continues to this day, most recently with the menu for the President's Inaugural Luncheon, which made national headlines after it was pegged by mis-informed critics at more than 3,000 calories per meal.  The chef who created the luncheon, Shannon Shaffer, handily debunked the notion, saying the figure was more accurately 1,600-1,800 calories per meal.  

Supporting a minimum wage increase...
Gibson also said that between 12 Bones' two locations, the company has about thirty employees, and he was pleased to hear the President call for an increase in the minimum wage to $9 an hour during his State of the Union address.  (Above, the President during his 2010 visit)

"We support his initiative to raise the minimum wage," Gibson said.

"I believe we reward effort and determination with wages that allow working families to raise their kids and get ahead," President Obama told the crowd at Linamar, which makes car parts.  "And that's part of the reason why I said last night that it's time for an increase in the minimum wage, because if you work full-time, you shouldn't be in poverty. "

A second 12 Bones order was also placed by aides for Presidential staff working the ground in Asheville, Gibson said.  

The President's last public dining excursion was on Jan. 17 for the First Lady's birthday, when he treated his wife to dinner at Washington, DC's Cafe Milano in Georgetown.

President Obama departed Asheville at 1:17 PM aboard Air Force One, and touched down at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:11 PM.  He arrived back at the White House at 2:33 PM.

On Thursday, the President will travel to Decatur, Georgia for a second State of the Union follow-up trip, this one focusing on education.  He is scheduled to visit a pre-kindergarten classroom at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center, and then deliver remarks at the Decatur Community Recreation Center.

Info:  The 12 Bones the President dined at is located at 5 Riverside Dr., Asheville, NC, 28801.  Phone: 828-253-4499. 

*Top photo by pool; 2010 photo by Pete Souza/White House