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Sonny Conrad, Barbecue Center owner, dies at age 75

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The Barbecue Center in Lexington (Credit: The Barbecue Center Facebook page)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Sonny Conrad, the owner of The Barbecue Center in Lexington, a man highly-respected in the community, died at age 75.

The Lexington Dispatch reported that Conrad died Friday morning at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

Conrad was also known for pioneering the Barbecue Festival, one of the largest festivals in North Carolina.

He was one of six restaurant owners who agreed to participate in the festival in 1984. It has since been a tradition for Conrad to present the first barbecue sandwich of the festival to the mayor of Lexington.

Conrad’s restaurant has been featured on the Travel Channel, Southern Living magazine, Bobby Flay’s Food Network show and several outlets.

“He was a wonderful man and a pillar of the community,” said Susan Lloyd, a close friend, according to The Dispatch.

Conrad was known for building one-on-one relationships with his customers.

“He was my best friend, the best boss and the best Dad a man could have,” said Michael Conrad, his youngest son, according to The Dispatch.

Read more: The Lexington Dispatch