Thursday, May 16, 2013

Corky's Founder Don Pelts Passes Away

Posted By on Thu, May 16, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Don Pelts, with son Barry in an undated photo from the Memphis Magazine archives
  • Don Pelts, with son Barry in an undated photo from the Memphis Magazine archives

More sad news today. Donald Pelts, who founded Corky's Ribs & BBQ, passed away on Wednesday.

Pelts launched Corky's in 1984. The restaurant now has three Memphis-area locations as well as several locations outside the area. Corky's also does a brisk online business and has a presence on QVC. The cookbook Cookin' with Corky's was released earlier this month.

From the 2009 Summer issue of MBQ:

When Don Pelts opened Corky’s BBQ in Memphis in 1984, he was too busy getting the eatery up and running to look very far into the future. But seven years later, after dabbling in requests to send slabs of ribs home with out-of-town customers, the Pelts family got serious about the shipping business.

In 1991, Corky’s distribution center/warehouse became a USDA-inspected plant, located in a 900-square-foot building near the restaurant on Poplar. A decade later, in accordance with federal guidelines for a “separate, dedicated facility” and to accommodate a growing demand for the popular pig products, the Pelts moved the shipping department to a Brooks Road building that had once been the Seessel’s commissary.

“That building,” says Corky’s president and co-owner Barry Pelts, “was about 9,000 square feet. We remodeled it completely and over the years have expanded it to 40,000 square feet.”

The number of shipping personnel has grown too; in the early years, the department consisted of a manager and two employees; today it has five managers overseeing 35 full-time workers. Total shipping revenue now is $12 million, or 25 percent of the total business.

The funeral service has been set for Friday, May 17th, 2 p.m., at Temple Israel, with a grave-side burial to follow.

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