Memphis-style barbecue; sweet, finger-licking ribs, mouth-watering pulled pork dripping with spicy sauce and topped with crunchy, sweet coleslaw. This is just a sampling of what you will find at Beale Street Smokehouse BBQ, just a short distance away down U.S. 23, off Exit 80 in Fenton. The popular eatery serves up some real Southern-style barbecue seasoned with its own special dry rub and slow smoked in a smokehouse on the premises over a pit of select hardwoods to create their signature smoky flavor.
Phil Canup, his daughter Lisa Reading and Steven Pender have owned the place since August of 2011. Tucked between a gas station and a trucking company, Beale Street Smokehouse BBQ was originally owned by Kim Hicks who turned her former restaurant, Across Town Cafe, into a place that served down-home, Southern-style barbecue. When the trio learned that Kim was going to relocate to South Carolina, they made her an offer to purchase her restaurant – and the rest is history.
Lisa was formerly a server at Beale Street and Steven was a cook there. Phil has a background in marketing and graphic design. “We were the perfect team,” laughs Phil. Lisa and Phil manage the front of the house and Steve is the executive cook and back-end manager. Phil handles all the marketing. “We are really hands on,” says Phil, “and we’ve put in hours and hours of work.”
What makes Beale Street so special is the food. “This is genuine, Memphis-style barbecue,” boasts Phil. The pork butts and brisket are cooked at a low temperature for 18 hours. The smoker holds 36 racks of ribs and a lot of work goes into the smoking process. Steven does the cooking and smoking with the help his team, and he has worked to perfect the recipe which has greatly improved the quality of the food, explained Phil. “We have a really great staff here.”
One popular dinner entree is the Pig Pen – your choice of pulled pork, pulled chicken or smoked sausage and two sides. Tasty sides include baked beans, mac & cheese, potato salad, red beans & rice, sweet potato fries topped with maple cinnamon dust, not to mention the yummy cornbread topped with honey pecan butter. Other popular entrées are Memphis-style St. Louis ribs, beef brisket platter, baby back ribs, and a pork bowl which combines redskin mashed potatoes topped with cheddar cheese, BBQ pulled pork, green onions and onion straws in a casserole dish. According to Phil, the most popular dishes are the ribs and the pulled pork. The pulled pork sandwich is piled high and topped with barbecue sauce and to make it Memphis style, top it with coleslaw. Beale Street BBQ also serves more delicious sandwiches, including the smokin’ bologna sandwich, smoked sausage sandwich, slow-smoked beef brisket, and a Black Angus burger. There are three BBQ sauces to choose from — House, Spicy and Sweet.
If there is any room left in your tummy after a satisfying, finger-licking good meal, Beale Street offers some desserts including its famous homemade pecan pie and chocolate lava cake. There is also a full bar stocked with Michigan craft beers and eight beers on tap. You can also enjoy your favorite cocktail, a selection of Michigan wines and beer as well as beer and wine from the local Fenton Winery & Brewery. Beale Street also offers carryout and catering services. “Talk to Lisa about our catering,” says Phil. “We customize our service to meet your needs.”
Friday and Saturday nights are pretty special at Beale Street with its weekend entertainment. “You won’t find Karaoke or Open Mike at Beale Street, but you will find some good Blues music!” exclaimed Phil. “People love it. It gets pretty lively in here.” Some of the entertainers who have brought down the house are Sweet Willie Tea, Sanctuary Blues Band, Rusty Wright Blues, Lost City Band, and Heather Jones & the Groove Masters, to name just a few. “The Blues really fits our venue,” Phil says.
Beale Street has expanded its services to the Hartland area with Beale Street BBQ Carryout and Catering, located near Old 23 and M-59. The new place offers a full carryout service and has limited seating for 12 people. According to Phil, the Fenton location has been serving many customers from the Hartland area. “They are really excited about it,” says the owner.
What is the best thing about Beale Street Smokehouse BBQ? “Our customers,” says Phil. “We are so lucky to get to meet so many people and to be part of such a great community.” With that in mind, Beale Street enjoys giving back to the community and participating in local events such as the Taste in Fenton. To enhance the dining experience further, Beale Street is expanding its patio area with wrought iron chairs and tables and seating for 24 diners. “We look forward to continuing to improve and provide our patrons with the best quality product and service,” says Phil. “Come on out and try the best barbecue in town!”
Photography by Mike Naddeo