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The Carter Brothers know good home cookin’

by Lee Adams

‘“Hey guys. Very good as usual,’” calls out Bill Gifford on his way out the door.

As folks leave Carter Brothers Bar-B-Que and Ribs restaurant on Samet Drive in High Point they comment on the service and food to owners Steve and Darin Carter.

‘“How you doin’,’” Steve calls out to another patron.

‘“We come to bring you our money,’” she says in return, bearing a large grin.

A couple accompanied by an elderly lady passes by the counter. ‘“We’re bringing people down here to see what good eatin’ is,’” Linda Whitaker says to the Carters. She and her husband Neil eat at there often. Today they brought Neil’s mother, Maybelle, to eat barbeque at Carter’s during a trip to see her doctor. She’s had a craving for barbecue lately, the Whitakers say, so they decided to bring her to what they say is the best place for barbecue anywhere around.

There are two locations for Carter Brothers Bar-B-Que and Ribs in High Point and the three brothers are currently looking to open a third restaurant.

‘“You need a restaurant up there,’” Neil says to Darin and Steven Carter referring to the Whitaker’s hometown of Gibsonville.

‘“It’s always a pleasure to eat here. People are so nice here,’” Neil says to the Carters. ‘“That’s what makes it worth it.’”

‘“Ya’ll are what makes it worth it,’” Steve replies.

The Carter Brothers, including Steve, Darin and their brother Tom who works at the North Main Street location, opened up their first restaurant in 1997 in a vacant Hardee’s building and have been wildly successful. But their path to local barbecue fame didn’t start there.

Growing up in a poor family the Carter brothers were forced to quit school and go to work to support themselves at age 16. All three got jobs working for Henry Rogers at Henry James Barbecue.

Darin Carter, after just two years, became the manager of Henry James. He worked there for another 10 years before venturing out on his own.

When they found the vacant Hardee’s the Carters asked friend and realtor Ed Price to buy the building and let them lease it. He immediately agreed.

Then banker John Stunda gave the Carters their first loan, for $125,000. Darin Carter says Stunda believed in them enough to offer the loan with their business as collateral.

The Carters worked hard, proving themselves to those who helped them get their start and in 2000 they were ready for a second location.

They decided to lease the building they currently occupy on Samet Drive, but within six months of opening for business they were able to buy both locations and decided to do so.

About that same time the High Point Bank solicited their business. They needed a closer bank, Darin says, as their current bank in Archdale was too far. The Carters agreed to give the bank their business if they would consent to a $1.5 million loan. The bank granted the loan within five minutes.

‘“We’re growing at an amazing rate,’” says Darin. Within the past two years they’ve had to build a second parking lot for their employees and have added a wing that seats 70. In the past year alone the two businesses combined have earned over $800,000.

The Carters give credit where credit is due. In addition to their former boss and the investors and friends who believed in them enough to support them, they credit their excellent waitstaff who give friendly service with a smile to customers, making sure they’re well fed and full on drinks.

The new addition, which opened in November of last year, was going to be a wing for former server Kiley Leonard to work in. But she was killed in an automobile accident before it was completed. In her memory the Carters dubbed the room ‘“Kiley’s Korner.’”

Most importantly, they say, they credit Jesus Christ for their success. Their faith has played a defining roll in who they are and the success they’ve achieved. Above a counter is a large painting of Christ overlooking Earth and their cups proclaim ‘“Jesus is Lord’” in red lettering.

The Carters are a perfect example of what it means to live out your faith. They don’t apply pressure to customers but they let their faith be known by their actions. Every year the Carters serve free meals at their two restaurants on Thanksgiving and near Christmas for those who may not be able to afford a good meal or have family to share it with.

Once, Darin says, a man and his daughter stopped by on one of the holidays to see if the restaurant was open. Darin told them they were serving free meals that day. The man broke down into tears, he says, as he told Daring they hadn’t eaten in several days and had been down on their luck for quite some time.

The Carters also give back by holding fundraisers where free meals are served such as the Annual Carter Brothers Tennis Classic that raises money for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. They also support a Christmas thank-you dinner held each December for His Laboring Few (a motorcycle ministry), and the National Prayer breakfast held each year at First Baptist Church of High Point.

‘“We do give God all the grace and glory,’” says Steve. ‘“He continues to bless us every day.’”

To comment on this story, e-mail Lee Adams at lee@yesweekly.com.

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