By Lauren Dowdle
Photos by Morgan Hunt
Michael Manakides likes to say he’s worked at his father’s restaurant his whole life — and also the past two years. He’s not wrong. “I was brought here before I was brought home from the hospital,” he says. “I’ve been running around here since I was a kid.”
For him, the Golden Rule Bar-B-Q on Montgomery Highway has always felt like home, in part because of the many long-time employees, who were really more like family, Michael says.
Though Golden Rule started in Irondale in 1891, the Hoover restaurant was its first franchise. The location opened in 1974, and Michael’s father, Nick, acquired it four years later, creating a place for friends and families to gather for homecooked food.
Michael took on his first real job at Golden Rule when he was in high school, later working summers and holidays while he attended Auburn University. Even after graduating from college and accepting a sales role, Michael still helped his father at the restaurant part-time.
So, when his father decided it was time to cut back on his hours two years ago, Michael was ready to step into the role of general manager, working alongside manager Miranda Tolliver. He planned to continue the family tradition that kept so many in the community coming back, meal after meal.
That part has remained the same since Michael took over. But after 46 years as Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, the Hoover restaurant changed its name last year to Archie’s Bar-B-Q & Burgers. Customers still order their same favorite barbecue, burgers and sides from the longstanding menu hanging above the kitchen, but now there’s a new sign outside.
The new name came not long after the COVID-19 pandemic began. “Once the virus started, we saw it as an opportunity to break away from the franchise and build our own brand,” Michael says. “You do business the same for 46 years, and one day, everything changes (with a virus).”
They decided giving up a franchise fee was a much better alternative than having to let any of their valued team members go. “Losing a name was better than losing an employee. We haven’t laid off anyone during the pandemic,” he says. “We really thought it was in the best interest of our business.”
While the name might be different, patrons can expect to see the same familiar faces serving up their favorite dishes. Several employees have worked at the restaurant for more than two decades, including Donald Cammack, Tiwanna Hilson, John Zortorres Marquie Brown, Anthony Simmons, Lisa Holder, Haywood Fuller and Lori Blum. “I’m super proud of how resilient and loyal our staff has been through all of this,” Michael says.
But where did the new name come from? The answer has another fatherly tie. Nick’s father, Archie, helped him run the business when he first acquired it. Archie owned and operated Mary Ball Candy Co. from 1958 to 1988, so he shared his insight into running a successful company with his son. He could also be found talking with customers or even helping out in the kitchen. When the family needed a new name for the restaurant, it only made sense to go with Archie’s.
“We wanted to pay homage to him,” Michael says. “He was a big part of the business and a fixture here. Everyone knew him as Mr. Archie. We thought the name was simple and meant something to our family and the people here.”
Another thing that matters to the regulars at Archie’s is the atmosphere, which continues to transport customers to a simpler way of life. “It’s like going back in time,” Michael says. “People have told me it’s old-school Birmingham barbecue.”
From the smell of the pit going in the back to the waitresses who know the regulars’ orders, the restaurant has been the place to come together for many across Hoover for nearly half a century. And they show no signs of stopping anytime soon.
“We have so many different types of people who eat here. It’s such an eclectic group of people. You could have anyone from the mayor to Alabama Power workers at the bar,” Michael says. “That’s probably my favorite part about the restaurant.”
Archie’s Bar-B-Q and Burgers is located at 1571 U.S. 31 in Hoover. They are open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Cooked to Perfection
When a dish is in the name of the restaurant, it better be good—and Archie’s barbecue and burgers don’t disappoint. After cooking on the pit for six hours, their barbecue pork can be ordered chopped or sliced and served on sandwiches or plates.
The hamburgers and hamburger steaks are another favorite and are prepared to order.
Of course, no meal is complete without one of their homemade fried pies. These apple and peach turnovers are made from scratch with fresh dough and fillings each day, and can be ordered ala mode. “Some people come just for those,” Michael says.