Southern BBQ and Carnivore Cuisine Arrives to LansingBy Jane Whitttington on July 27th, 2016 /
When the name of the restaurant is Meat, customers have an excellent clue as to what’s on the menu. In Lansing, Meat, located in the Old Town neighborhood, is busy serving up its own unique blend of smoked meats and succulent sauces.
Owner and operator Sean Johnson’s Meat: Southern BBQ and Carnivore Cuisine is bringing customers in to sample menu items like “the meat mountain, an unimaginably awesome baked layered combination of garlic mashed potatoes, smoked beef brisket, bacon gravy, spicy creamed corn and gooey cheddar cheese.” Another popular dish is described on the menu as “a pork belly Reuben made with house cured pork belly pastrami, sliced brisket, Swiss cheese, sautéed sour kraut, our house camwow sauce served on a locally made pumpernickel bun.” For customers with a taste for down home deliciousness, Meat is the place to be.
Johnson worked for many years as a mechanical contractor but was an avid BBQ fan who experimented with cuts of meat and homemade sauces in his home. Friends and family raved about what he served at his get-togethers. He even did some catering on the side. When he decided to make a change in his career, the idea of opening his own BBQ restaurant was so appealing that he proceeded to make plans to enter the risky business of food service. Looking at locations, he happened upon the ideal spot in Old Town, an area noted for food, fun and entertainment.
“I opened the restaurant about a month after I found this location. The place had been a flower shop and antique store, so it required a good bit on renovation to turn it into a restaurant,” Johnson said. “I did a lot of the work myself and had help from family and friends. When we first opened, we were a small operation, but when the space next door became available, we expanded and now have a larger area for customers as well as a larger prep area.”
He continues, “We have two industrial smokers that we use to prepare the meat. Everything is fresh every day. If we run out, we run out, and if we have too much, we get rid of it and start over fresh the next day. A good 90 percent of what we serve here is made right in our own kitchen with our own recipes.”
Johnson has about 30 employees with about half being full-time. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and also has a full bar. It seats about 85 with an additional 30 in the outside patio. Meat also does catering, and they are looking into the possibility of having a food truck.
Traditionally, a restaurant is a tough business to turn profit from. How are they finding success?
“The restaurant isn’t easy. It’s a huge responsibility, and I am here every day making sure things are running smoothly. Our reputation depends on doing a good job for every single customer. We all have to be 100 percent committed,” he said.
The unique menu, mix of catering and food truck items, with quality service could be just the right mix for their success.
“It’s really important for me, for my employees and for my customers that Meat is a fun place to be,” he said. “We treat everyone like family here. Combined with great food, the atmosphere is what has made us a success.”