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Amy Hinman CrumpSticky Fingers Ribhouse opened in 1992 as the dream of three high school friends who loved wings, ribs, and good ol’ Memphis barbecue. Their vision exploded onto the Charlotte catering circuit and now dozens of locations dot the Southeast, bringing warmth and friendly food to small and large events.

Amy Hinman Crump believes in this barbecue mainstay. As Director of Catering Sales, she moved from Buffalo, New York to North Carolina, focusing on Sticky Fingers’ expansion in the Charlotte catering scene. “Competition in the south is pretty fierce,” she notes of barbecue items on menus everywhere. Eater takes it one step further, noting “various cities have just seen a general stepping up of their game when it comes to the cuisine, whether it be Washington, D.C. or even (gasp) New York City.”

“We’re extremely grateful when folks return to the good ol’, reliable Sticky Fingers,” Hinman Crump says. So we asked her just how Sticky Fingers has shown innovation but also stayed true to its Memphis roots for the last twenty-five years, and what the future holds.

What makes Sticky Fingers’ barbecue unique?

We embody our Memphis roots by slow smoking over hickory wood, then complimenting that process with our secret rubs and signature sauces. We select only top of the line proteins to go in our smokers. And, of course, it’s made with lots of love!

Tell us more about these signature sauces!

We’ve been doing the sauces for about twenty-five years. Our Memphis Original is served on everything. Our Carolina Classic is mustard-based, then our Carolina Sweet is my personal favorite! Our smoky Tennessee Whiskey is always popular and our Southern Heat is a spicy version of our Memphis Original with habanero and other peppers, which adds heat without being too hot.

They give a nice variety for different regions: In Tennessee, they don’t do the mustard sauce at all, and the Carolina Sweet is most popular in Charlotte catering and around the region.  

Sticky Fingers Barbecue

What contributes to Sticky Fingers’ greatest catering success?

Over the past twenty-five years, we’ve perfected “the art of bringing pork to the people.” Our legendary customer service extends from the dining room to the catering department – many servers and cooks make up our catering service team. This ensures our catering clients are getting the best and most passionate people serving them.

What does “legendary” service mean to Sticky Fingers?

We’re “yes” people here. There’s nothing we won’t try or do. When people call at nine o’clock at night, we say, “Absolutely!” We always take care of our clients. If a customer asks for anything special, we’ll go out of our way to make it happen.

What touches make a big difference?

We use the business model of “legendary service”.  In general, with everything we do, we try to make it legendary. We’re huge supporters of the military, so for Veterans Day, we sent our delivery driver out with a red, white, and blue Sticky Fingers shirt and cards thanking the Veterans for their service. For a funeral, we sent a card signed by the entire restaurant expressing our condolences. A woman was celebrating being cancer-free, and I sent a bottle of champagne. We go above and beyond.

We use the business model of “legendary service”. Click To Tweet

Has there been a time where going “above and beyond” has failed you?

During one phase, we tried to be too many things to too many people – we tried to offer too many items that weren’t our specialty, like steaks and tacos. Our business suffered. At the end of the day, we’re a barbecue place. We went back to focusing on what we did well, and that brought us continued success.

What advice would you give other caterers from that experience?

Stick with what you know – don’t try to be all things to all people.

What trends do you predict growing for barbecue catering?

People are intrigued by the on-site smoking and pulling process, so I’d imagine we’ll do more whole hog cooking. I see incorporating more creative side items to complement the protein. We just introduced brisket mac and cheese and, for a luau, topped the pulled pork with pineapple, which took off! We tried pimento cheese because it’s huge down here. It’s about taking what you have and trying new and different styles with it.

Where do you see the company headed?

I think we’re better than ever right now – we’ve got an amazing team and a lot of growth potential. We will just keep expanding, and keep bringing pork to the people! I can see locations all over the U.S. in the next five years.

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Jacqueline Raposo

Written by:

Jacqueline Raposo

Jacqueline Raposo is an expert interviewer. Her over 400 articles, essays, and podcast episodes feature Missy Robbins, Daniel Boulud, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marcus Samuelsson, and other such award-winning chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, managers, and hospitality personnel. Find her at www.jacquelineraposo.com or as @wordsfoodart.

Posted in: Trends in FoodNeed to Know

Tagged with: BBQ, Catering, Charlotte, NC