Saddleback BBQ opens its doors in Okemos

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Saddleback Barbeque is now open for business at its second location in Okemos (1754 Central Park Drive). Soft opening events for invited guests were held last Monday and Tuesday night, followed by the grand opening on Nov. 8 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“I think we had a very positive response from the public,” said Matt Gillett, co-owner of Saddleback Barbeque. “In regards to the volume yesterday (Nov. 8), I think it’s pretty close to what we expected. We had a great turnout right at the beginning, which we’re really excited about.”

An incentive for customers to come to the grand opening was the chance at winning free meat for up to six months. The first customer would be awarded free meat for six months, the second and third customers three months of free meat.

The customer who earned free meat for six months was Josh Woodrum. Woodrum, a resident of East Lansing, began camping outside the restaurant on Monday night. After staying in line for 36 hours, he confessed he had a desire other than free meat.

Woodrum asked if Saddleback BBQ would donate the monetary value of the six months of free meat to Volunteers of America of Michigan’s community kitchen. Woodrum is hoping to raise awareness for the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness.

According to their website, Volunteers of America provides help for the homeless, food for the hungry, employment and shelter for veterans, housing for poor seniors, and a helping hand for struggling families. They are the largest provider of homeless services in the Capital region.

“What a great story this has been,” said Darin Estep, vice president of community engagement for Volunteers of America. “First there was the initial selflessness by Mr. Woodrum, who gave up a gift so he could share with others. Then there was the support of Saddleback, who endorsed his generosity and made it multiply. And then there was the inspiration that grew as word spread. What we’re seeing here is the power of good, how one act of generosity can inspire so many others.”

Saddleback BBQ offered to donate $750 in Woodrum’s name, and Woodrum added $250, to make the total donation amount $1,000.

“It was really exciting, as a business we were excited just to see somebody out there doing that for the things that we were offering,” said Gillett. “To actually find out later that he was doing it for another purpose was even more exciting. It was two surprises in one.”

The restaurant has paired with Bell’s Brewery and will carry eight of their beers on tap. Saddleback Barbeque is also introducing “Pork and Go” as an option for those who want to call ahead and have their food, and drink, delivered right to their car.

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