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Penguin Ed's: the Batch-Maker

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10 June, 2019

Penguin Ed's Bar-B-Que has come a long way from its humble roadside beginnings. Getting his start smoking barbecue from a trailer at the crossroads of Crossover and Mission Blvd over 25 years ago; the emperor penguin himself, Ed Knight, and his more-than-just-barbecue businesses have grown to include three restaurants across Fayetteville. Each location is unique, with a different atmosphere and different items on the menu. Their perfectly-smoked, tender, juicy barbecue and signature sauces have been winning awards and returning customers since the beginning, but you can expect way more than barbecue from Penguin Ed's. They make praise-worthy burgers, hot wings, fresh salads -- even breakfasts, on the weekend -- and don't get me started on their cookies.

The restaurant concept began with a limited menu and the intention of serving home-smoked barbecue to the working lunch crowd. The story behind the penguins is a little more bizarre. During what was possibly a heat-induced daze caused by the cramped and over-heated conditions of the original food-trailer, Knight decided to make a paper-mache emperor penguin colony. Whether it was just delirium or all part of a master plan, we may never know; but Knight had had a long-standing admiration for the way penguins share the good and the bad to survive together. Shortly after opening their first brick-and-mortar location, they really began adding to the menu. Ed's daughter, Audrey, began making cookies with her grandmother's family recipe to sell in the restaurant, and it wasn't long before the barbecue crowd fell in love, and the recipe needed to be scaled up to meet the demand.

Nowadays, a full breakfast menu is available on weekends from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Penguin Ed's Mission location, complete with pastries from their bakery. Amber "Frosty" Halzle has been Penguin Ed's in-house baker for nearly half a decade, and she really knows her stuff. Knight is overcome with admiration for his master baker. "I am truly in awe of her," says Knight. "[Amber] has taken it to a whole 'nother level! Just her ability to hold a standard, and her tenacity," he continues, "she goes above and beyond the call of duty." Arriving at 6 a.m. every morning, she diligently and meticulously begins her day baking Audrey's cookies. "You really can't be mad about getting up early to bake cookies," she laughs. Halzle knows how important the cookies are to Ed and his regulars, and after explaining how she is sort of a control freak, she adds, "when you bite into that cookie, you want it to taste just like you remember. We make them fresh every morning, and consistency is everything." Halzle is passionate about baking, and she literally holds the key to Audrey's secret family recipes.

Her favorite, like so many of Ed's cookie-lovers, is the Chocolate Chip Toffee Pecan; but she let me in on a little secret: the Neiman Marcus is the best "breakfast" cookie, and it pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee.

Although their barbecue brings in most of their business, many people swing by just for the cookies. They're really that good. Call ahead to get a custom cookie-cake made fresh in any of their 11 flavor varieties, and have it beautifully decorated with scratch-made icing by Frosty herself! The M&M cookies are popular with the kids, and you can find everything from double chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin to white chocolate apricot and snickerdoodles on the daily.

If you happen to be near Penguin Ed's B&B location, go all-out and get a couple of their unique fried pies and take home a dozen of Audrey's cookies.

Check out penguineds.com or visit their Facebook page to see each location's weekly specials, study their full menu and cookie flavors, or request a catering event.


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