Arkansas BBQ eatery comes to Cherry Hill

A pulled pork plate from Whole Hog Cafe.

The Philly region lately has become a magnet to all manner of barbecue from around the country - Brooklyn's Fette Sau, California's Baby Blues BBQ, Texas' Bubba's BBQ.

Open this week - direct from Arkansas - is Whole Hog Cafe, which took over a shuttered Bob Evans at 2321 Route 70 West in Cherry Hill (856-910-8060), on the eastbound side of Route 70 just past Bayard's and across from Top Dog.

Whole Hog's route to Cherry Hill was paved with tragedy. Decades ago, Haddonfield native Kathy Maynes moved to Little Rock, where she married Ron Blasingame, a BBQ hobbyist. The couple owned a leasing company.

In 2000, Ron Blasingame and two partners opened Whole Hog. But in 2009, when Ron died, Kathy got the business and asked her brother, Chris Maynes, to help run it.

Maynes, whose background was with the Navy, had an MBA in finance and worked for such companies as Aramark and Comcast. He took it over shuttling between the restaurants and South Jersey. There are three company-owned locations and 10 franchises.

Menu is based on competitive BBQ (it took first place in this year's New Jersey State BBQ Championship), so it's pretty much pulled pork, pork ribs, pulled chicken, beef brisket and smoked sausage. No burgers, no fries.

No alcohol, though you can BYO.

Order at the counter. Figure on $5.49 for a pulled-pork sandwich containing 5 ounces of meat, $6.99 for a jumbo containing 7 ounces of meat.