If you happen to have the pleasure of driving through West Virginia, please take a detour to Fayetteville about an hour from Charleston. There you will find a very large bridge, world class white water rafting and best of all, Dirty Ernie’s Rib Pit. My friend Sergio recommended this place almost a year ago and I’m sad to have waited this long to visit. The food and staff are absolutely spectacular as is the atmosphere. Welcomed by the smell of bar-b-q and salted peanuts crunching under your feet, enjoy tasty ribs, delightful broccoli bites, and a wide variety of other sides and drinks. The rest of the Ernie’s story is better told by their website (http://www.dirtyernies.com/de/themenu.htm) but is told as we continue the experience….
“Many years ago West Virginia was one of the largest coal producing states in the nation. Thurmond, a small town on the New River, at one time mined more coal than any other city in the United States. Thurmond also had another claim to fame; it was home to the world’s longest poker game – 14 years. The game was played at the Dunn Glen Hotel, and the only reason it stopped was because the disapproving people from the far side of the river burned the hotel down.
Now since all these coal miners were in the Southern West Virginia area, there were many small mining towns. Fayetteville, home of the original Dirty Ernie’s, just happened to be one of these towns. Coal miners in those days were paid in scrip. With the scrip miners could buy clothes and other necessities from the company store. This meant that they would spend the little bit of cash they made on food and Booze.
Most of these miners did their drinking in a small building on Keller Ave, that is today’s Dirty Ernie’s. The person who ran this bar/restaurant was a short old man named Ernie. Ernie always looked a little messy. He was short with a dirty beard, and he loved to use foul language and be lewd with the ladies; therefore, he got the name “Dirty Ernie.” Dirty Ernie made a great deal of money selling food and booze to the miners, but he liked to drink a little too much while he was working. Tragically, Dirty Ernie caught his building on fire while cooking and drinking. The townspeople managed to save most of the building, but Ernie was lost in the blaze.
Years later a family bought the building and operated a restaurant for several years. The family lived in an apartment above the restaurant and served three meals a day in the downstairs. Surprisingly, on several mornings, the family would go to work and find refrigerator doors open, oven doors down, burners on, and food spilled, but there were no signs of forced entry. After asking some questions, the family believed that their problems were being caused by the “ghost of Dirty Ernie.”
Several years later when we bought the building from the family, they told us to watch where we put our tools. When we asked why they said the ghost of Dirty Ernie would hide them. We inquired further, and when my dad and I had listened to the entire story, we knew what we had to name our new BBQ restaurant — Dirty Ernie’s Rib Pit! The rest is history and history yet to come.”