CORNELIUS – Mac’s Speed Shop is well on it’s way to becoming a Charlotte institution.
There are the bottled sauces and rubs now sold at the Charlotte airport, select Harris Teeters and online. The fact it is now included on ‘must visit’ lists for tourists. Plus the expansion plans for more restaurants across the state. Not to mention a first place ribbon in the Red Sauce category at the prestigious Memphis in May competition in 2013.
“And to think we just wanted a place to eat good food and drink cold beer,” partner David Jewell said.
The first Mac’s Speed Shop opened on South Boulevard in 2005 in the space formerly housing Mac’s Transmission shop.
“We kept most of the exterior the same while gutting the inside,” Jewell said. “It evolved into this beer, bikes and barbecue theme which runs through all the other restaurants, as well.”
The second location opened in 2008 in Lake Norman in a tucked away space that had housed many different restaurants.
This Mac’s has flourished becoming very popular with the lake crowd. Three more restaurants have followed: Steele Creek, Greenville and Fayetteville with a Greensboro location to open in 2015.
The reason for the rapid and successful expansion of the Mac’s Speed Shops has to do with the food, beer and customers. The food is high-end barbecue that is accessible to everyone.
All the meat is smoked in-house over hickory for optimal taste, similar to the age-old process. The sauces, dressings, hushpuppies and most everything else is homemade. The pickle chips are soaked in Tabasco sauce prior to being fried to add a little spice.
The mac and cheese is homemade and extra creamy and the green bean casserole adds crunch to the meal. There are vegetarian options such as the homemade black bean burger and spinach salad.
The beer is also a large part of the Mac’s culture. There are 350 beers specializing in local, craft beers on draft. There is a beer club that customers can join complete with an electronic card and earned patches, glasses and Mac’s clothing. The final prize for trying 300 different beers is a plaque with the customer’s name that will be screwed into the bar.
All the bartenders and servers are well versed in suds knowledge and are happy to make suggestions.
“The beer is such a big part of who we are,” Jewell said. “We go through a lot of kegs.”
The third component to Mac’s is bikes.
“Yup, we have lots of bikers who come to eat and drink here,” Jewell said. “You will just see the amazing machines lined up outside. People will stop and stare; it’s like dinner and a show.”
And speaking of shows, Mac’s also specializes in live music.
Manager Drew McClintock often ate at the South Boulevard location, and he went out of his way to become part of the management team in Cornelius.
“It’s been such a great experience to work here,” he said. “If anyone is visiting Charlotte for the first time, this is the place to send them.”
The restaurant has tons of swag for sale: hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts, and onesies for babies.
Mac’s has become a real Taste of Charlotte and for that Jewell is very grateful.
“We have so much great word of mouth,” he said. “We try hard to serve really good food and have fun, too.”
Want to go? Mac’s Speed Shop 19601 Liverpool Pkwy., Cornelius, 704-892-3554.