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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Tennessee BBQ


Charlie Robertson

Barbecue has been served at the present site of Three Little Pigs in east Memphis for over four decades. Since 1989, Charlie Robertson, under the Three Little Pigs name, has been serving shoulders—never butts—and amassing customers and an immense collection of pig paraphernalia.

In the location of a former Loeb’s—a once-famous Memphis chain—Charlie Robertson kept what worked and changed what didn’t. This is a neighborhood kind of place, and the only barbecue restaurant in Memphis where one can encounter an employee who acts as an official greeter, a man who walks the floor asking if everything was to your liking.

Mr. Robertson’s customers are as dedicated to Three Little Pigs, as he is to them; many bring the restaurant pig plates, toys, and other geegaws from their travels. It’s telling that many of these same customers eat here three times a day.

We first visited Three Little Pigs Bar-B-Q in 2002 as part of our initial foray into documenting Memphis ‘cue, a project that included photographs, original essays and a smattering of oral history interviews. Visit the original Three Little Pigs Bar-B-Q page.

Date of interview:
2009-08-03 00:00

Rien T. Fertel

Rien T. Fertel

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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