Fuller’s Old Fashion BBQ
Eric Locklear was born and raised in the Saddletree community, a close-knit farming settlement near Lumberton. Today he’s still there, just across the street from the house in which he and his five siblings were raised. His parents, Fuller and Delora, farmed tobacco, corn, beans, and cucumbers until the 1980s, when many small farmers in Robeson County were pushed out of business by industrial agriculture. Delora encouraged Fuller to follow his love of cooking for the community. He was known as “the barbecue man,” using his home pit for plate sales at local fire stations and schools. In 1986, the Locklears opened Fuller’s Old Fashion BBQ three miles down the road from its current location on Highway 211.
Fuller’s first space sat forty customers and offered four items on the buffet. Eric, barely out of high school, worked with his parents from the start, mopping floors, washing dishes, and eventually learning to cook from his parents’ recipes. As business grew, the Locklears expanded to its current location in Lumberton, which holds 300 people. They also opened a location in Fayetteville. Though Fuller and Delora have both passed, Eric continues to run the business with help from his family. Fuller’s is known for its long buffet full of traditional Lumbee cooking: collards and cornbread, okra, chicken and pastry (also known as chicken and dumplings), rutabaga, peas, cabbage, chitlins, chocolate layer cake, and of course barbecue, which is still cooked on the pit at the Locklear home, served chopped and sliced with a vinegar-based sauce.
Date of interview:
July 22, 2014