This Thursday, June 25, 2009, join the Rib Cage in celebrating six years of business in Oxford. The bash will last most of the day and into the night. Starting around 4 pm, there will be a shrimp boil and plenty of drink specials. Early revelers will be serenaded by J.T. Lack, everyone’s favorite hirsute banjo picker from Mayhem String Band, who will be joined by fiddler Anya Groner. Later, the party moves downstairs with Avenue Hearts’ stylish alt-country.
Corinth-native Buck Walden, who is an Ole Miss alum, got his start at the Rib Cage in Tupelo in 1992. He went from the kitchen to the bar, then quickly took over management of the popular restaurant. In 1997, he bought it and continued to please BBQ lovers in Tupelo.
Tupelo residents may remember the original St. Patrick’s Day parties at The Cage. They were so popular that in 1994 Buck decided to apply for the $5 permit and sponsor a short parade route—two laps around the Rib Cage—complete with floats, Elvis, green beads, and a King and Queen.
“It was so funny to watch all these people having such a good time in just two little laps around the restaurant,” Buck recalls. “The Harley guys, Corvette guys, beer guys, they were all there dressed in green, partying.”
Six years ago, Buck opened the Rib Cage of Oxford and managed to juggle the two restaurants for a few years. Eventually he decided to focus his efforts here, and in 2006 the Tupelo location closed. The St. Patrick’s Day parade continues uninterrupted in Tupelo, though now sponsored by Cellular South. Buck says that he’s thought of trying to start one up in Oxford, but worries that it could be trickier to obtain the permit. Perhaps enough community support and he could pull it off.
For six years now, Buck and his crew have served his ribs and BBQ to hungry Oxford residents and tailgaters. Although it is not a franchise of the original Pickwick restaurant, they share most menu items and the BBQ sauce is still cooked up in Tennessee. Oxford has a few unique gems on the menu though, like the toaster sandwiches and BBQ nachos, which can be made with pulled pork or chicken and are a messy, cheesy treat everyone should try. They also have some pretty tasty quesadillas and, in my opinion, the best BBQ sandwiches around.
At night, the bar clientele is one of the most varied in town, ranging from college kids to bikers, from sports fans to hippies, and everything in between. Fans of the dim, intimate downstairs lounge know that Rib Cage is one of the best places to catch some live music and enjoy a few cold brews. The bartenders have a few specialties up their sleeves, as well (hint: ask for a Sunkist and you’ll be set for the night), and they are some of the friendliest in town.
In addition to excellent eats and drinks, The Rib Cage offers some seriously good deals on catering. If you have a large group to feed, give them a call at 662-238-2929. Catering is not limited to the in-house menu and Buck specializes in hickory-smoked meats—ribeyes, New York strips, filets, and even pork chops. The giant smoker in the kitchen is perfect for just about anything you want, and he even offers whole smoked turkeys around the holidays.
Come out and support one of Oxford’s best local businesses this Thursday, hear some great tunes, eat some shrimp and sip some brews. Here’s to turning six—see you at The Cage!