Food, fun and fried pickles are the norm at Lancaster’s Bar-B-Que

by Molly Reitter

Lancaster’s baby back ribs made with homemade rub and barbecue sauce are served with green beans and homemade coleslaw. (Erik Reitter/MI Monitor photo)

Locals and old timers will remember Puckett’s convenience store and gas station. It sat on Beatties Ford road offering gallons of milk, homemade-sandwiches and gas to an area with little to no restaurants and stores.

It was the one place for a long stretch to stop in, have a chat and grab some good eats.

Lancaster’s Bar-B-Que restaurant now operates in the old Puckett’s location, and they have managed to keep the same feel: a community hang out with darn good food.

Lancaster’s is owned by Jeffrey Lancaster, who also is the purveyor of Jeffrey’s Restaurant. The first Lancaster’s opened 25 years ago in Mooresville in a gas station on N.C. 150 with just three booths for customers. Now that location operates in a 10,000-square-foot restaurant.

The Huntersville location opened six years ago and has kept to the original roots of old-time gas station. There are antique gas pumps in every corner of the restaurant that look like standing works of art. The bar is where the garage used to be, invoking a light, airy feel. An engine block of a car sits toward the back of the restaurant.

“It is attached to a propane tank and shoots flames out of the cylinders,” manager Mark Trevett said with a grin. “But the fire department said ‘why don’t you just go ahead and unhook it.’”

Trevett has been the manager for about two and a half years, but has worked with the Lancaster family in one way or another for nine years. Prior to this, he drove a truck and worked construction. But when the economy went south and he needed more work, he began doing some catering work with Lancaster.

His hard work did not go unnoticed, so when the Lancaster’s in Huntersville needed a manager, Lancaster called on Trevett. Since then business has picked up and the location has been firmly established. Trevett will not take full credit for this.

“It has to do with solid owners, employees and, most of all, the support of the community,” he said.

Lancaster’s firmly believes that if you support the community, it will support your restaurant. They often donate or give items at cost to schools and businesses. In turn, business and schools get the word out about this local business tucked away in the outskirts of town.

The employees are also pulled from the community. Krystina Orlandini has been working at the restaurant off and on for six years, through high school and college. She has stayed for so long because they worked around her school schedule and for the fun atmosphere.

“You can really talk and get to know the customers,” she said. “Plus the food is really amazing.”

The barbecue is typical “eastern style” meaning that it is vinegar-based. Bottles of homemade sweet and vinegar barbecue sauce on the tables let the diner customize the pulled meat.

The coleslaw, green beans, wing sauce, Brunswick stew, potato salad, mashed potatoes, onion rings and ranch and blue cheese dressings are all homemade.

The ribs are simply sublime. A homemade rub is pressed on the ribs prior to grilling and then they are slathered with the sweet barbecue sauce giving them a perfect taste with every bite.

Oh and be sure to try the fried pickles. A perfect coin of battered crispy crunch with a tinge of the sour will leave you in dining heaven.

The customers have as much character as the restaurant. Take Mary Wingfield, of Huntersville, who sits primly at the bar on a Friday afternoon.

“My favorite thing on the menu is the Long Island Ice Tea,” she said.

When asked for her favorite food item she does not pause for even a second.

“The barbecue ribs are the best,” she said. “You can’t beat ‘em. They just taste better here.”

Trevett smiles as he looks over the dining room.

“This place has a great feel to it,” he said. “We are proud of everything about it.”

Lancaster’s Bar-B-Que

9230 Beatties Ford Road, Huntersville

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