Food & Drink

New barbecue restaurant finds a big surprise inside

When the new location of the popular Cotswold Mall restaurant Improper Pig finishes opening next week in downtown Fort Mill, you’ll see something different, besides the menu.

One wall of the restaurant features a surprise artifact: A big Pepsi-Cola advertising mural that may be more than 100 years old.

Owner Will Bigham of Stomp Chomp & Roll, which owns several restaurants including Flying Biscuit and the Pizza Peel, says they found the mural for Pepsi and another for an old brand of cigarettes when they renovated the building at 204 Main St. in Fort Mill.

Bigham’s new location includes a location that used to be three old buildings on Main Street. One was a theater and another a post office. When they took the wood off one wall that had been an exterior wall before the buildings were expanded, they turned up the old advertisements, which are believed to date to 1911.

Hugh Bigham, the father of Improper Pig owner Will Bigham, grabs a shot of a picture showing the original building, including the sign on the outside wall, which was covered for decades after the building was expanded.

The original location of Improper Pig in Cotswold, at 110 S. Sharon Amity Road, has always had an unusual menu that focuses on barbecue with other things, like the Southern Egg Roll with sweet potatoes and collards, and seared ahi tuna over Asian slaw.

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Bigham says the new location includes a wood-fired grill, so they’re adding steaks to the menu, including ribeye and New York strip.

“Our goal is still to serve great barbecue,” he says. “But there’s where the ‘Improper’ names comes from. You can get barbecue, but you can get other things.”

While the new location opened quietly over the weekend, the official grand opening will be Jan. 1.

The new location will still have cocktails, as the original does, but Bigham’s also planning to offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The new location also is attached to Amor Artis Brewing, so you can get food from Improper Pig at the brewery, or get craft beer in the restaurant.

The new location, with 99 seats, will be slightly larger than the original, which has 85 seats including the covered patio area.

Charlotte Observer food editor Kathleen Purvis has more than 25 years of experience in writing about food., cooking and Southern food culture. She also covers restaurant news (openings, closings, trends and food finds) and she knows where to find the best fried-chicken breakfast in town.