BY SHELBY NIEHAUS
“You just gotta be here,” Grant Sefton says.
From the center of his corner lot in Brownstown, he looks around at classic trucks and cars, rusted out, half-buried in the ground, and converted into art objects: fountains, flowerbeds, and signs. A gravel road leads around the fountain and past a cluster of grey plastic benches towards the white kitchen, which is closed for the morning.
Sefton and the people of Brownstown agree: Uncle Grant’s Car-B-Q is a unique place.
It all started with a dream, claims owner Sefton. While working at a construction site, Sefton spotted an ancient bus. Later that night, he had a dream about it.
After the bus came the smoker car, which is the most striking fixture of the Car-B-Q. Sefton saw it and immediately joked about turning it into a barbeque smoker. The joke became reality soon after.
Uncle Grant’s smoker car, which sits close to the highway under an installation of a skeleton riding a motorcycle, has a smoker door where the driver’s seat once was and a firebox in the trunk. The hood opens up to another cooker. Sefton also installed lights, noisemakers and a front tow bar; the whole smoker can be moved whenever Sefton wants.
Despite his thriving barbeque business, though, Sefton has no outside experience in cooking, barbequing, or restaurant ownership. He claims that his barbeque is good because of this lack of experience. He did what he wanted and“[he] made it [his] own.”
Much of the business revolves around Sefton’s philosophy of life. “I quit chasing money and started chasing happiness,” he said about starting his restaurant. The whole lot reflects that: there are open spaces for dancing, a tetherball post, and a couple of leftover fireworks from the Fourth of July, not to mention a bin of children’s toys behind the seating area. Sefton also mentions his plans to show classic movies on Fridays sometime in the future, as well as his hopes to hold wiffleball games.
The menu is classic and family-friendly, too. Offerings include nachos, fried pickles, cheeseburgers, smoked sausage, country-style sides like okra and fried green tomatos, tenderloins, and his crowd favorites such as pulled pork, ribs, and the stuffed loin. Sefton says he sells around 100 pounds of pulled pork per day, thanks to his restaurant’s early popularity.
But even the best barbeque tires the cook out after a while. When asked about his favorite dish at the restaurant, Sefton grinned and shook his head. “When I go [home], I just have cereal.”
Sefton feels that Uncle Grant’s Car-B-Q is popular because nobody else in the area offers quite the same atmosphere, nor any other outdoor dining experiences. The Car-B-Q is an easy-going, comfortable place: “You’re not a customer; you’re family,” Sefton says.
All area families are welcome at Uncle Grant’s Car-B-Q from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Stop by 348 West Cumberland in Brownstown for a filling meal and a unique experience.