Sean Johnson hasn't had any trouble building a following for his signature southern barbeque and comfort foods he plates up through his Old Town restaurant. So when a larger space became available next door to Meat Southern B.B.Q. & Carnivore Cuisine,
he didn't think twice about making the move to become even meatier.
In mid-February, Johnson opened the doors to his new, expanded restaurant at 1224 Turner St. At 2,000 square feet, the space nearly triples the size of his original restaurant and provides more seating—both inside and out. Even more, the new digs enable Johnson to feature a bigger menu and a full bar, something that wasn't possible in his previous 800-square foot space.
"I had always hoped the restaurant would take off," says Johnson. "My wife and I thought it would be a hole in the wall place—just something we would have for several years. But when we starting seeing people lined up at the door all the time, we knew it was time to take the next step."
Johnson and his wife, Lynette, opened Meat in the summer of 2012 after taking a hobby for barbecuing to the next level. Since then, Meat has been met with a healthy reception to carnivorous offerings that include smoked brisket, pulled pork, turkey and an assortment of comfort foods like macaroni and cheese.
The move into a larger storefront, Johnson says, allows Meat to add additional sandwich and meat selections, as well an some appetizers and sides. Many menu items will rotate, with meats prepared daily through two industrial smokers.
Johnson and his family did the majority of the remodeling themselves over seven months, including the tables made from hardwood flooring. The new restaurant will seat up to 90 people, with 40 additional on a covered, outdoor patio—weather permitting.
The new Meat will feature a full bar with 18 beers on tap, including Michigan beers and other domestic favorites. Johnson says he added five staff, including a couple bartenders, and a host and hostess to help with workflow and expanded hours, bringing his staff up to 23.
"We work very hard to make sure the quality of food is the best we can provide," says Johnson. "And now, we're working hard to develop a bar following. People know we've expanded. But I don't think they really think of us as a place where they can go to enjoy a drink and snack, too."
Source: Sean Johnson, Manager, Meat
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
Got a story idea for Capital Gains Development News? Email Ann Kammerer here.