Address: 789 Chestnut St NE, Orangeburg, SC 29115
Phone: (803) 534-9418
Hours of operation: Thursday – Saturday, 11:00am-8:00pm.
Back in the 1940’s, as the William Tell overture played in the background, the announcer for the radio show “The Lone Ranger” would always open by saying “Come back with us to yesteryear…”
Well, when you step into Duke’s on Chestnut Street in Orangeburg, you have stepped back into yesteryear.
The restaurant is a plain white cinderblock rectangle. The only outside sign is the one painted on the building. Inside the tables are all long picnic style that you sit at jointly with other barbeque purists.
The buffet is the smallest in the state just barbeque, hash, rice and slaw with loaves of bread at the end. Just the essentials. And they take cash only, no cards and no checks. Just like 1950.
But Duke’s barbeque houses in their many forms have probably served more barbeque than anyone else in the state with the possible exception of Maurice’s. Starting in the little town of Cope (where there in no Duke’s any longer), the Dukes family then opened their next restaurant in Orangeburg. They thrived there and set the standard for barbeque for miles around.
Then adjacent towns in and around Orangeburg got their own Duke’s. Then Duke’s ventured out even farther away to such places as Columbia and Charleston. All the while the founders of Duke’s made sure that each store was run by a family member and that each restaurant used the same recipes for hash and barbeque sauce and that each one cooked their barbeque the same way as the original.
Well, over the decades there have been changes. Some Duke’s restaurants, such as the one in Aiken, are a large restaurant with a full-fledged buffet that have more on it than you could ever possibly want, and the others are somewhere in between the Spartan Chestnut Street operation and the newer, lavish up-to-date restaurants. But there is one thing that remains the same – the barbeque and the hash and the sauce.
As you sit in this Duke’s and contemplate how things were back in the 1950s, save a little room for that quintessential Southern favorite, red velvet cake. At Duke’s on Chestnut Street the red velvet cake is truly home made, as in the kitchen of the owner’s daughter. A good size piece of this delicious piece of nostalgia is only one dollar. How can you resist yesteryear?