North Carolina’s storied Skylight Inn is turning 70, and you’re invited to the party

Skylight Inn BBQ restaurant in Ayden, N.C.
Skylight Inn BBQ restaurant in Ayden, N.C.

One of North Carolina’s most well known and storied barbecue restaurants is turning 70, and barbecue fans are invited to join the celebration.

The Skylight Inn, founded in 1947, will celebrate its 70th birthday this weekend. On July 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Skylight Inn will serve up the barbecue that’s earned it scores of accolades and media attention, including the James Beard “American Classics” Award in 2003.

Skylight Inn
Jeff Jones, co-owner in the Skylight Inn barbecue restaurant, uses two cleavers on a wooden block to chop the freshly prepared meat at their Ayden, N.C. establishment. Corey Lowenstein

The restaurant, opened by the late Pete Jones when he was 17, is known for its whole-hog wood-cooked barbecue. It has attracted the likes of President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush and has been featured in countless national publications and television travel shows.

In addition to barbecue, there will be classic cars, bluegrass music and prizes.

“Skylight Inn is as much of a family tradition as it is a food tradition,” said Sam Jones, a seventh-generation pitmaster, in a news release. He owns his own barbecue restaurant nearby, Sam Jones Barbecue. “We’re fortunate that our community has embraced us throughout the years, and we’re excited to celebrate our 70th anniversary together.”

Skylight Inn at 4618 S. Lee Street in Ayden. It’s about an hour and a half east of Raleigh, and about 30 minutes south of Greenville.

Info: or 252-746-4113.