MeMa’s Chick’n & Ribs Finds New Home In Porters Neck

By Jessica Maurer, posted Jun 6, 2024
Myra and James McDuffie stand in front of their new restaurant space at 8232 Market St. in Porters Neck. (Photo courtesy of Myra McDuffie)
MeMa’s Chick’n & Ribs owners Myra and James McDuffie closed last week on a building in Porters Neck that will house their new brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Extensive renovations are set to begin soon at 8232 Market St., a space that previously housed J. Michael’s Philly Deli. 

The McDuffies decided last year not to renew the lease at their former Burgaw location, which closed its doors on May 28, 2023. They opened the Burgaw location in 2017, serving up classic Southern cuisine and smoked meats prepared from family recipes passed down from James’ mother, Mary, also known as MeMa.

Exactly one year – to the day – after closing the Burgaw location, the McDuffies finalized the purchase of the new Porters Neck space. Deed records show they purchased the roughly 7,600-square-foot space for $2.5 million.

“After all the changes in plans over the years, this feels like it was meant to be,” Myra McDuffie said on Thursday. “This space is large enough for everything we want to do.” 

In 2019, the McDuffies purchased land along N.C. Highway 53 in Pender County with the intention of establishing a multi-million-dollar shopping center that would house a new MeMa’s location and barbecue sauce production facility along with space for other retail outlets. 

But following several setbacks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, lengthy delays in permitting and rising interest rates, the McDuffies knew it was time to change course. They still own the property in Burgaw and hope to one day develop it, but it was time to focus on finding a permanent home for the restaurant, Myra McDuffie said. 

The new Porters Neck location will include a commercial production facility for their barbecue sauce along with a shop and restaurant seating. The production space will be visible from the dining area and tours will be available. 

There will also be space for private events with all the technology needed for on-site meetings of up to 50 people. The McDuffies say they look forward to hosting groups for tours and luncheons and will have special packages available.  

“We really plan to make this a destination,” Myra McDuffie said. “From the food to the atmosphere and a number of different experiences on-site.” 

The building includes a drive-thru, which appeals to the McDuffies because they expect to fill a large number of carryout orders once they're open. In the meantime, MeMa’s will serve carryout from their catering trailer Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. while renovations are underway. 

While Myra McDuffie said it’s too soon to announce an opening date, they hope to open as soon as possible, pending renovations and permitting.
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