Shadden’s BBQ, opened for more than 40 years in Marvell, Arkansas, was a place of BBQ pilgrimages for many years. Housed in a 100-year old general store building in Marvell, Arkansas, Shadden’s was known at various times as the town in a non-town, the place for craps, dancing, fighting, and eating. Levon Helm of The Band was a regular.
According to a documentary on All South Networks (http://www.allsouthnetworks.tv/details/shaddensbbq.html), Shadden’s was most recently known as an eating place rather than a gambling place. During its gambling days, 400-500 people would be there on a Saturday night. According to Wayne Shadden, a $500 fine and a year in jail changed that. For BBQ lovers, this was the best shift in focus a place could ever make. Since then, Shadden’s has become a necessary stop on any BBQ pilgrimage.
In its post-gambling incarnation, it was a cross between a roadside grocery and a museum, with “yellowed pictures of smiling families and once-young enlisted men everywhere,” according to Gary Saunders of DixieDining.com. Jars of giant dill pickles, pickled sausage, and pickles eggs graced the counter tops.
Wayne Shadden died in 2010 at the age of 77. Shadden’s closed. With the help of Randy Ensminger, Arkansas board member at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, the Shadden’s sign (conspicuously dotted with bullet holes) will live on at the SoFAB and BBQ lovers can still come and pay their respects to Shadden’s.
Shadden’s BBQ Sauce
- ¼ cup oil
- ½ stick butter
- 2 small onions (chopped very fine)
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ bottle A-1 Sauce
- ¾ bottle ketchup
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ tablespoons Tabasco
- ¼ lemon (grated; including rind)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste (for added heat)
– Sauté onion in butter and oil until tender
– Add other ingredients, mix well and cook for 30-45 minutes.
(SHADDEN’S BARBECUE, MARVELL, AR; from High Cotton Cookin)