This story first appeared on Charlotte Business Journal by on October 25, 2018.


This neighborhood barbecue joint expects to open by the end of November.

Sweet Lew’s BBQ is under construction at 923 Belmont Ave. — formerly home to a service station.

Lewis Donald and Laura Grice are behind that venture.

The duo had considered a number of sites over the years, but had yet to find the right fit. This spot was appealing because of its small footprint and the neighborhood, Grice says.

“This has turned into my passion project,” she adds. “It just gave us a chance to put together the concept in a way that made sense financially as well.”

They declined to share financial details.

Donald says that after 25 years in the restaurant business barbecue felt like a fit; he sees it as something he could do with passion for the next 25 years.

“It has clear, concise expectations,” he says.

Meats will be wood-smoked on hickory, pecan and peach woods daily in a 450-square-foot smokehouse. Plans call for Texas-style brisket, pulled pork, dry-rubbed ribs and smoked chicken.

“It’s very simple. We’re not trying to chef anything up,” Donald says.

Diners can put their own spin on it, with a number of sauces including a traditional North Carolina vinegar-based sauce, South Carolina’s mustard-based sauce, a Texas-style option and a mayonnaise-based Alabama white sauce.

Specials will include South Carolina-style hash and Brunswick Stew. Donald wants to hold fish-fry Fridays and serve fried chicken and mashed potatoes at least once a week.

Think classic sides such as collard greens, baked beans, mac and cheese, Carolina boiled potatoes and boiled peanuts.

Banana pudding and Dirt Pie will be available daily, with homemade pies and cobblers dished up as specials.

Sweet tea with crushed ice, beer, wine and a select handful of cocktails will be available.

“It’s more an opportunity to hang out and be part of the neighborhood,” Donald says.

Sweet Lew’s will also cater, allowing guests to purchase by the pound or by the person. Those orders can be customized with off-menu items as well.