Mission BBQ, a military-themed barbecue restaurant with the slogan "The American Way," will soon report for duty across from the Southlake Mall in Hobart.
The Maryland-based chain plans to open Jan. 13 at 2217 E. 80th Ave. in a space formerly occupied by Casual Male XL. Mission BBQ will move in next to Vitamin Shoppe in an outlot at The Crossing at Hobart, the major outdoor shopping center that also is home to the anchor stores Burlington, Office Depot, Walmart, Michaels, DSW, Ross Dress for Less, Best Buy, Value City Furniture and Hobby Lobby.
The 3,800-square-foot restaurant will employ 55 workers and seat up to 95 diners, including at an outdoor patio.
"We're a scratch kitchen," said Steve Overholt, regional director of operations. "We don't microwave or freeze anything. We start with the dry rub and smoke at 6 a.m. every day."
The fast-growing business also is opening restaurants in the coming months in Fort Wayne, as well as in Ohio, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, with plans to open a Mishawaka eatery later this year. Founded in 2011, it has grown to 94 locations nationwide, adding 17 to 18 more every year.
The restaurant serves oak-smoked brisket, slow-smoked pulled pork, turkey, pulled chicken, sausage, chicken, ribs, St. Louis-style spare ribs and salmon in a dining room with patriotic decorations such as photos of local veterans.
None of the barbecue is sauced during cooking and a selection of 11 sauces from different regions of the country is available to add at the table.
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It also offers sandwiches, salads and sides like mac-and-cheese, baked beans with brisket, green beans with bacon, coleslaw and fries. Though mainly a family-style dine-in restaurant, Mission BBQ also has pickup packs to take home and feed one's family, catering to up to 50 people or more.
Every day at noon, the restaurant comes to stop for a rendition of the National Anthem.
The chain actively donates to many causes, giving more than $10 million to military charities like honor flights to see monuments in Washington D.C., as well as local police, firefighters and other first responders. The Hobart restaurant recently joined the veteran-owned Chesterton Brewery in helping the local Mission One nonprofit to raise more than $5,000 to buy a vehicle for a local veteran in need.
It's the latest in a string of barbecue restaurants to open or expand in Northwest Indiana in recent years, including Bombers BBQ in Munster, Q-BBQ in Schererville, True BBQ and Whiskey Bar in Munster, Big Daddy's BBQ in Schererville, Mastersque in Merrillville, Smoken Pit in Merrillville and Jordy N Jax BBQ in Valparaiso.
Mission BBQ will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.