Martinsville BBQ restaurant places in national competition

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - There's no absence of pork or any kind of meat, for that matter, when you visit the Checkered Pig in Martinsville.

"Holy cow: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, that's probably 60 or 70 pounds of pork right there," exclaimed Checkered Pig owner Tommy Houston, as he looked at the meat in one of his smokers behind the restaurant.

The locals certainly appreciate it, but owner Tommy Houston just returned from the West Coast. His BBQ has received national attention multiple years in a row. This past weekend, Houston took home second place at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off in Nevada.

"Big winner again, second place, bridesmaid two years in a row," said Houston. He said he has lost first place to the same man two years in a row now, but after tasting his ribs, he knows what to do differently next year.

But for Houston, it's not about being a big winner. He doesn't even bring home his trophy. In the restaurant there are only a few winning pieces on display.

This time of year, Houston is focused on something much more important.

"I headed to Wilmington, North Carolina, feeding flood victims down there. When I got there they were cranking out 30,000 meals a day," said Houston of his journey helping people last year during hurricane season.

Hurricane Florence devastated places like Wilmington in 2018, but Houston was there with Operation BBQ Relief - a nonprofit that provides meals to displaced residents and emergency personnel during natural disasters.

Houston is now waiting to see if he can help feed Dorian victims.

"They're staging right now, waiting to see where there is a need," said Houston.

For now, it's business as usual. But while Tommy loves his restaurant, he loves helping wherever he can.

"It's not just a plate of BBQ. It's that one meal that matters," said Houston.

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