Mariah Carey may have been the last casualty of 2016—but Florida barbecue master Joe West was a close second, Sarasota’s Herald Tribune reports.

For years, West had been cooking his grandmother’s original barbecue recipe, serving brisket, pulled pork and other smoked meats on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and at the newspaper’s Main Street hub.

The Herald Tribune’s senior investigative reporter Lee Williams tells last week’s “horrible tale of woe.”

Things changed Tuesday.

Enter Nicholas "Nick" Boatwright, an inspector/statist with the aforementioned Division of Hotels and Restaurants.

Young Nick has been with the agency for all of six months.

He was cruising by our shop Tuesday morning when he noticed Joe's "illegal" smoker – most likely he caught a whiff of the smoking brisket – and then he pounced like a duck on a June bug.

Inspector Nick issued Joe what amounts to a written warning for a host of "violations."

There were permit issues, and he said Joe needed running water. Most worrisome, he said smokers weren't "legal." Evidently, there's some kind of Communist-inspired over-regulation that says you can't serve meat from a smoker to a plate. It has to go to a steam table first, which defeats the whole purpose of the [darned] smoker!

To be clear, I'd eat Joe's barbecue if it was served on the back of a dead dog, wrapped in rusty razor wire and garnished with a live grenade.

We thought the fictional loss of Freddy’s BBQ Joint was bad enough. But this is a real-life reversal of fortunes, a story of how overregulation pinches the little guy who just wants to earn an honest buck. 

As newly elected GOP leaders make their case for a smaller, less oppressive government, they should trumpet the cause of men like West.