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Bone Lick BBQ's Mike LaSage on his O4W Restaurant Roots, Barbecue Bests and More

In a matter of weeks, the Westside will have a new barbecue joint with P'cheen's Mike LaSage behind the smoker. Eater got the scoop on what makes Bone Lick different, must-try menu items and the secret to good barbecue.

The Bone Lick BBQ team, Alex Friedman, Mike LaSage, David Cross and Keiran Neely, signing paperwork for the restaurant.

How will Bone Lick be different from other barbecue spots in town?
Well, for starters, it's going to be the best. But seriously, it is going to be a bit more of a chef-driven menu. We will have all of the old BBQ faves and award-winning flavors that Bone Lick is known for, but there is going to be more to it. We are going to make our own beef jerky, cure our own hams, make our sausages from scratch, cure our own bacon, etc. Unlike a lot of newer BBQ spots, I have been doing this for years and we are coming out the gates with delicious, award-winning BBQ. We're lucky because there won't be the trial and error period that a lot of BBQ owners have to deal with. Not to mention, it is going to be a really cool place to grab a bite, hang out at the bar, socialize, listen to music and more. We're not going for your typical BBQ restaurant. We want to apply the successes we have accomplished with P'cheen to Bone Lick BBQ, making it both a dining and social destination that supports the community around it.

What kind of vibe should we expect?
Bone lick is going to be a fun spot. Bottom line. We are going to have a real vintage flair in a modern environment. The decor is going to have some fun kitsch to it, and at the same time it's going to be very eco-friendly. I am building all of the tables and the bar out of recycled woods. Using recycled goods in as many places as we can. We are going for a look that is truly unique in this city. Nothing pompous. Nothing stuffy. Antique skee ball machine in the corner. A jukebox with some local and national celebrity picks on there. A great bar. Cold beers. A fun staff. A place where you really want to hang out. During the day, it will be a bit more of a grab 'n go spot. We will have counter service so that people can get in and out quickly. There is nothing worse than rushing during your lunch break. We will also be offering delivery, something that not many BBQ joints do.

What's the one menu item first-time diners absolutely have to try?
The smoked tofu sliders ... JUST KIDDING. The ribs are to-die-for. The pulled pork is smoky and delicious. Our brisket has been called the best by many of our Monday night patrons. The best bet is to get the Fat Ass Sampler and try it all in one go!

The Westside is pretty different from your Old Fourth Ward roots. How will that play a role in what Bone Lick becomes?
Well, when my business partners originally picked the location for P'cheen in the Old Fourth Ward, there was nothing there. It was called "Beirut" on police scanners. It was not a destination area by any means, but we have all worked so hard at changing the dynamics of our neighborhood, making it a place people truly want to hang out in. Now look how many great restaurants are located in the Old Fourth Ward. I think our move to West Midtown is going to be very similar. We are going to bring the party. Nobody in this town does it like we do. And we are really looking forward to changing those dynamics. I think that some of the other restaurants that are close to us know that, and they seem to be looking forward to it as well.

Any plans to participate in any chef wars or barbecue competitions?
Well, we just did a BBQ competition a couple of weeks ago (Hops + Hogs) and left with the First Place prize. I think we will definitely be getting into more competitions once we are up and running. Being outdoors, smoking meat and drinking beer, meeting so many new, cool people, that's about as good as it gets as far as I am concerned. But for now, my immediate focus is getting Bone Lick's doors open.

What's the secret to good barbecue fare?
Having a chef or pitmaster that is there, watching over it. Good BBQ takes love. Good BBQ takes time. You have to be more concerned with the quality than the quantity. We are going to be making EVERYTHING fresh, from scratch, every day. I don't believe in selling leftovers. Everything has to be fresh!

Why did you originally start the Monday night Bone Lick events at P'Cheen?
P'cheen used to be closed on Mondays. So I threw a party every week called "Meat Mondays." Basically, it was a bunch of service industry people, DJs and a lot of people from various bands in and around Atlanta. That party went from 10 people showing up to, eventually, 75-100 every week! It went nuts organically and I was going broke throwing it, so when I moved out of that house, I called up Keiran and Alex and said, "Listen, fellas. We need to do this at P'cheen. Use the pop-up restaurant concept as a way to build a new business plan." They agreed and were very supportive of the whole concept, and it took off immediately.

When and how did you decide it had become something more?
It was always the idea to turn it into a full-time BBQ restaurant; however, a couple years after we started the Monday Night Mike's Bone Lick BBQ, Atlanta magazine named us the best 'cue in the city and #4 in Georgia, and that's when we knew to run with it!

What's on tap?
Well, we are going to have all Georgia Beers on tap. We want to keep the money in local people's pockets as much as we can. Our beer selection is going to have plenty of easy and accessible old standbys, as well as a large American craft beer selection, again keeping as many local brands as possible. We want to make sure we have everyone's tastes are covered. As for the liquor, P'cheen, given the meaning behind the name, has focused considerably on moonshine. And while Bone Lick will have a moonshine selection, our primary focus is going to be small batch American whiskeys.

Anything else you can add.
Let's have some damn fun!

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