Reginald "Reggie" Crowder, the hardworking pitmaster at Dee's Q in East Nashville, died Sunday of a heart attack.
An alumnus of Mary's Old-Fashioned Pit Barbecue and Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, Crowder learned the business of barbecue, brisket and bird and struck out on his own five years ago. He and his wife Tracey rehabbed a former garage at the corner of Riverside and Rosebank into a tiny yellow-and-red 'cue shack, which they christened "Dee's" after their teenage daughter. Neighborhood residents were accustomed to seeing Reggie tend his pork shoulders throughout the night, visiting his hickory smokers 'round the clock to perfect his fare.
Fresh, flavorful and served with obvious pride, Dee's ribs and pulled pork quickly earned a place in Nashville's barbecue pantheon and Crowder's wings won him a role in the Music City Hot Chicken Festival, a nascent tradition celebrating Nashville's indigenous cuisine.
When we visited Reggie last year at the restaurant, he, Tracey and Dee sat with us in the covered screened patio. As we gnawed our way down the menu of ribs, pork sandwiches and brisket, sipping grape Fanta in the hickory-scented outdoor room, Reggie and Tracey talked about the challenges of starting a business. They shared an obvious commitment to their work and to their family, a passion that translated into a beloved culinary landmark.
The family will hold a visitation Saturday at 1 p.m. at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 2261 Murfreesboro Pike in Antioch. The funeral service will be at 2 p.m.