The Chef Files: Richard Bruce, Top Palmer, Pigman’s BBQ

By on February 17, 2019

Top Palmer, left, and Richard Bruce.

By Daniel Lewis

President, Outer Banks Restaurant Association

Richard Bruce, Top Palmer

Owners, Pigman’s BBQ
Ages: 40/40
Hometowns: Richard, Harrisonburg, Va.; Top, Suffolk, Va.
Years in OBX: 18, give or take
Training: Virginia Military Institute (non-culinary)
Style or specialty:BBQ

How did you guys get into the food biz?

Richard: I grew up in an Italian family on a farm; lots of hard work on the farm, lots of hard work in the kitchen. I liked the kitchen better. Top and I went VMI together. I joined him for the summer after graduation to drink beer and chase girls (we were a lot better at drinking beer!).  Always loved food and joined him at Pigman’s.

Top: Been coming to the Outer Banks forever. Got a summer job at Pigman’s in Duck the summer out of VMI. I loved it, learned the business, and the opportunity came to take it over from original owners of 35 years.

Any defining moments?

Top: My brother had rented a place here for a year, but needed someone to take on the lease through the Summer. I did, took the job at Pigman’s, and never left.

Richard: I think our first year taking over was most significant. It was not during the best time. But of all foods, BBQ seemed recession-proof. BBQ is like family — you don’t give it up even in tough times. We knew once we got through that first year, we could do this. When you don’t have much to lose, it’s not a big deal.

Let’s get right to the BIG question: Eastern or Western (BBQ)?

Richard: I like all kinds. We feature both Eastern, Western, Brisket, even turkey. Our house specialty is the local tuna BBQ.

Top: I grew up with the tomato-based BBQ, then coming here and having the vinegar-based sauce seemed strange. But now I’d have to say I like it (Eastern) a bit more.

What about the sides. Wwhat’s your favorite?

Richard: Mac and cheese, baked beans and slaw.

Top: I’m a french fry/hushpuppy guy. Slaw, too!

What about music What kind suits you here at Pigman’s?

Both: We’re classic rock fans, that’s what we play here.

Any guilty pleasures foods that you might not want anyone to know about?

Richard: The Baconator (occasionally), ice cream… think I have three pints of gelato in the fridge at home.

Top: Maybe not guilty, but sunflower seeds. I eat them all the time. Love ‘em. Can’t stop eating them until I finish the whole bag!

When you’re not working, where can we likely find you?

Richard: The gym, working out, swimming — work off that gelato.

Top: Gym as well. Love sports. And I just started volunteering at the Aquarium — really like it!;

Favorite OBX restaurant or hangout.

Richard: Love the Outer Banks Brewing Station.

Top: JK’s especially for Burger Night!

Top three people living or dead that you would like to dine with and why.

Richard: Prince -two words, Purple Rain. Rudy Rudiger — such an inspiration story! Still pondering the third.

Top: John Candy — just seemed like so much fun; Billy Joel — my favorite musician; Babe Ruth — he seemed like such a colorful character, someone you’d just want to sit and have a beer with. And I love baseball.  He probably likes to eat the way I do too!

What’s on your bucket list for a foodie destination?

Richard: Blue Smoke in New York; Danny Meyer’s ,great BBQ and blues joint!

Top: Thailand … I hear such great things, try things I’ve never had, like Scorpion and other wild stuff that you’d never see.

You guys are both known for your generosity. What’s your favorite way to give back to the community?

Top: I love doing all the food tasting events where we can share our food and raise money for a good cause.

Richard: You know I’m kinda partial to the Beach Food Pantry (Richard is chairman of BFP Board), but yeah, we love the tasting events and anything we can do to help the community.

Dare County Animal Shelter

Sealed bids for completion of the Dare County Animal Shelter will be received on February 11, 2020, in the Dare County Administration Building, 954 Marshall C. Collins Drive, Manteo, NC, for 01-Fencing, 03- Concrete, 04-Masonry, 05-Metals/ Steel, 06-Casework, 07-Roofing, 07-Caulking, 08-Glass and Glazing, 08-Doors, Frames and Hardware, 08-Overhead Doors, 09-Drywall, 09-Flooring, 09-Painting, 10- Specialties, 12-Furnishings, 21-Fire Protection, 23-Mechanical & Plumbing, 26-Electrical, 31-Sitework and 32-Landscaping.

This project will be bid and awarded in accordance with North Carolina law. Sealed proposals from Contractors will be received until 1:00 p.m. All bidders must submit for prequalification by 2:00pm on 2/3/2020. Bids submitted by non-prequalified bidders will not be considered. All bids will be opened and read aloud starting at 2:00 p.m. of the bid day. Bids must be delivered in person and on the supplied Bid Form and include a bid deposit worth 5% of the total bid value. Electronic and faxed bids will NOT be accepted or reviewed. All times are local prevailing times.

Information requests concerning the project shall be submitted in writing to: Alex Palagyi of The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company via email (

Bidding material, prequalification material, and complete plans and specifications may be obtained from the Whiting-Turner Building Connected site and will be available until the bid due date. All subcontractors are responsible for emailing Alex Palagyi ( for access to the Building Connected site.

The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company and Dare County reserve the right to reject any and all bids, waive informalities and irregularities in bidding, and to accept bids which are considered to be in the best interest of the County. The Whiting Turner Contracting Company and Dare County also reserve the right to require any bidder to submit information needed to determine if said bidder is responsible within the meaning of N.C. Gen. Stat. 143-129.

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