The drive-thru line at 517 BBQ began to wrap around the building as Lansingites sunk their teeth into smoked brisket, pork and chicken on the restaurant’s opening day. The drive-thru’s only establishment is owned by Lansing native Eric McClain.
“We’ve always been told to get a job and do something simple,” McClain said. “My friends and family just don’t believe that. We believe in enjoying ourselves and enjoy creating a good time for people around us.”
Partnering with pitmaster Freddie Mendoza, McClain said he took a leap into the drive-thru barbecue business because he couldn’t find anyone else doing it.
“We think we can get you in and out in a quick time,” said the owner. “You won’t be sitting in line for hours waiting for your brisket. We are cooking it the night before, thinking about you a night before you come.”
The signature dish of the restaurant is its brisket, he added.
“Everything is smoked 12 to 16 hours. Slow and low is what we call it. All of it is rubbed with our own blend of seasoning and spices,” McClain said.
The smoking method is all done with wood. “It is religious,” he added.
The restaurant offers family packs that can feed over six people with three pounds of meat, two large sides and six servings of cornbread.
Barbecue plates come with a choice of meat, two sides and cornbread. Sandwiches include a choice of meat and one side.
Paired with the delectable meats will be BBQ classic sides like coleslaw, mac and cheese, cornbread, green beans, baked beans, potato salad and cheesy potatoes.
The building is at the intersection of Oakland Avenue and South Cedar Street, the former home of Nu Wave Fish and Chicken.
“The biggest thing we’ve had to do with the building is switch the kitchen over from fried food to barbecue,” McClain said.
“We are on a busy street, so I hope we get some good business.”
There is room for everyone in Lansing’s barbecue scene, McClain said.
“It is not so much competition as much as we love what we do,” he said.
According to McClain, 517 BBQ will look into creating its own sauce, opening its dining space and making French fries once a dedicated customer base is established.
Aside from the barbecue business, McClain is a co-creator at Classic Groupe, a video production company.
“I marry food with entertainment and it is a good time. What is better than that?”
A staff of four runs the restaurant.
“We love our city and don’t buy into we have to leave Lansing to get somewhere in life,” he said. “We want you to know that we love you and we love our barbecue. We are putting down roots to feed the people.”
Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
427 E. Oakland Ave., Lansing, MI
www.517bbq.com, (517) 308-9762