Green’s uses creative marketing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 20, 2010

It’s not a new idea, but it’s one that Diane Green Pettie recently brought back to Green’s Barbecue Pit.

Every Thursday night, the restaurant, which has been in business for more than 60 years, invites a guest chef.

“This is about the third time we’ve done this,” she said. “The first time we did it was when Wilbur Mitchell was sheriff. He was one of our guest chefs. We also did it three or four years ago.”

But, this go-around, which started in February, the restaurant has featured Greg Gambril, district attorney; his opposition for office, Walt Merrell; Jason Killingsworth of the Star-News, WAAO’s Blaine Wilson; and Don Cotton, rumored to be running as an independent for the state House of Representatives.

In the coming weeks, Pettie said Carolina Baptist Church members will cook ribs. And on April 1, Shaw employees will cook spaghetti with all proceeds benefiting Renda Reeves.

“People are donating food for that night,” Pettie said.

Pettie said she got the idea from television.

“They had a guest chef on TV on the early morning show,” she said. “So, I said ‘why can’t we have one?’”

Pettie said she tries to offer a good price on Thursday nights – one that is better than average.

“We offer a family atmosphere, and it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

“We don’t serve alcohol. We have one family that hasn’t missed a night.”

Pettie said the guest chefs have provided a fun environment, and it’s interesting to see how many folks turn out to the event.

“When Walt Merrell and Greg Gambril were the cooks, it was very competitive,” she said. “Walt had something that was a take off of red beans and rice, but was cooked over cheese grits, and Greg had rib eye steaks and baked potatoes.

“Each of their dishes had political undertones,” she said.

“They each had about the same amount of people turn out. You can tell by their followings, it’s going to be a close race.”

Those followings are what Pettie relies on to help promote her business.

“I rely on how well they advertise,” she said. “It’s hard to cook for because you don’t really know how many to cook for. If anyone is interested in cooking they should let me know.

“Everybody that has cooked has taken hold and helped from serving plates to cleaning tables and they all have said they didn’t want to be in the restaurant business,” she said.

“But, we couldn’t do this without all of my employees. They have to retrain a new group every week.”

Pettie said they will continue to have the guest chef until the summer, but may start it up again in the fall.