Worth the Drive: Local Joe’s
Locally sourced foods, products on menu at Local Joe’s
By Jennifer Kornegay
The “eat (and drink) local” movement has been gaining steam in Alabama for the last few years, and it’s a philosophy that Jodie Stanfield has embraced with open arms. It’s the driving force behind his two restaurants in Rainbow City, Local Joe’s Trading Post and Local Joe’s at Little Bridge Marina. Both locations support area farmers and producers by incorporating what they grow and make into their foods and by selling their produce and products in their stores.
“That’s really how I came up with the name,” Jodie says. “We buy everything we can from ‘local Joes.’ We source from small area farms, and I mean some are really small, like this one retired guy who has a vegetable garden and sells me a couple packs of okra a day.”
A local lady makes Local Joe’s fried pies. You’ll find local beeswax soaps, local honey, local jams and locally grown herbs in the shop area. You’ll also find one of the area’s best selections of Alabama-brewed beer. “We try to use and sell all Alabama products,” Jodie says.
But folks flock to Local Joe’s for more than small-batch, scratch-made jelly. They also come for the ‘cue. The main items on the menus at both locations are the six different meats – turkey, chicken, ribs, pork butt, ham and house-made sausage — that are slow smoked onsite in metal drums that bellow clouds of heavenly scents for the wind to carry like a siren song into town.
The original spot is housed in a humble little wooden structure out Highway 411 that opened as a Pure Oil gas station – complete with a barber shop — in the 1940s. In the 1970s, it became a produce stand/small grocery store. Today, it’s one of the area’s favorite places to pork out on pig and to stock up on items offered in its quaint country store.
There aren’t many places to sit and eat there, just a couple of picnic tables set on a covered porch out front. But that doesn’t stop the crowds flooding in, especially around lunchtime.
The marina location is drawing plenty of people too, with its prime placement on the banks of the Coosa River. “We’ve got decks along the water, and we’re working to make it a place that encourages folks to hang out,” Jodie says.
No matter which Local Joe’s you visit, you’ll find barbecue that lives up to this column’s name. Choose a sandwich or a plate, and decide which meat speaks to your stomach. Then pick your sides from the usual suspects: potato salad, baked beans, slaw and one not-so-usual option, pasta salad.
‘Cue, smoked turkey and red velvet cake balls
The pulled pork is everything it should be: tender; full of smoke-soaked richness that comes from low heat melting fat into the meat; and laced with just enough of the pork butt’s mahogany bark. The sour-cream based potato salad has a refreshing tang to it, and the slaw is tossed in a tart vinegar dressing.
While pork is the most common meat in Alabama-style ‘cue, don’t overlook the poultry. Local Joe’s smoked turkey has become so popular, Jodie’s having Turkey Addiction T-shirts printed up. “Around holidays this year, we did 800 turkeys,” he says.
After you’ve cleaned your plate, take some Local Joe’s home. Grab to-go items like whole smoked hams, turkey and chicken breasts, pork butts, slabs of ribs and snacks and sweets like a bag of boiled peanuts, pimento cheese, house-made fried pork skins, strawberry bread that Jodie swears is the best anywhere around and some red velvet cake balls (bite-sized rounds of cake covered in icing) from the LJ bakery. “We’re getting known for our desserts,” he says.
And if you’re planning a function in North Alabama, look to Local Joe’s for catering. “We do events all the way down to Birmingham and up and over in Fort Payne and Guntersville,” Jodie says.
No matter where Local Joe’s roams, its heart is still at home in Etowah County, and Jodie explained why he “loves to support local.”
“It just makes sense. The food is fresher, and we’re supporting our community. It’s something we all need to get back to everywhere, not just here.”
Local Joe’s Trading Post
4967 Rainbow Drive
Rainbow City, AL
Local Joe’s at Little Bridge Marina
70 Whorton Bend Road
Rainbow City, AL