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Opened in 1952, Top Hat Barbecue is located in Blount Springs about thirty miles north of Birmingham. The Top Hat’s second owner decided to retire after only five years in the business. She offered to sell the place to her bread deliveryman at the time, Wilbur Pettit. When the company Wilbur worked for closed, he decided it was time to get into barbecue. He purchased the Top Hat in 1967 (the sauce recipe cost him extra), and he and his wife learned on the job. Their son, Dale, started working there four years later, the day after he got home from a stint in the Navy. Dale has manned the pits ever since. He, too, is passing the barbecue torch on to the next generation. Dale’s daughter, Heather Phillips, is the manager at Top Hat Barbecue.