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This way to the BBQ pit

Story by HAISTEN WILLIS/Photos by JASON GETZ

Funny thing about barbecue, it has a loyal following. It became a favorite pastime as a child for Paul Doster, the owner and chef of Cue Barbecue. A native of La Grange, Doster used to stop in barbecue restaurants during family trips to his grandparents’ home in Macon. He loved the local, homey feel of barbecue joints and knew he wanted to own one.

“The number one thing we emphasize is that everything is homemade,” says Doster, who has locations in Milton, Cumming and Peachtree Corners.

Cue serves mostly Georgia-style, pork-based fare, but is willing to borrow from other regions as well. There are South Carolina, Kansas City and Texas brisket influences, and even a vinegar-based Pittsburgh-style coleslaw.

“We hit a little bit of each region, so anyone can come in and enjoy it,” says Drew Hinsch, general manager of the Peachtree Corners location.

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The restaurant features all of barbecue’s major meat varieties, along with smoked chicken wings. What’s more, the meat comes sauce-free, so patrons are free to flavor their own food with tabletop sauce bottles.

Cue carries four house-made barbecue sauces: a Kansas City-style sweet sauce, a South Carolina-style mustard-based sauce, a hot vinegar sauce, and a North Carolina-style sweet vinegar. Though the meat is good enough to be eaten by itself, each sauce brings out different flavors and can be mixed and matched throughout a meal. Hungry customers sometimes purchase their own sauce bottle on their way out the door.

“Paul is a master with recipes,” Hinsch says. “[With] everything homemade, it’s not coming in frozen bags and then heated up. For the most part, you’re eating our food the day it was made, which keeps everything fresh and delicious.”

3 off-the-menu items

● Smoked jumbo wings. The wings at Cue come with either homemade blue cheese or ranch dressing on the side. They’re dry rubbed and smoked, unbreaded and larger than you’d expect, which means they’re also quite juicy. Like Cue’s other meats, the wings come sauceless, leaving patrons to flavor to their liking.

● Bourbon sweet potato casserole. Originally a rotating seasonal side, this dish became a permanent menu item through popular demand. Seasoned with brown sugar and topped with toasted marshmallows, it remains a crowd favorite.

Bananas Doster. Named for restaurant owner Paul Doster, the ingredients include vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers, sliced bananas sautéed in butter, brown sugar, roasted pecans, whipped cream and Myer’s rum.

If you go:

You’re likely to notice Cue Barbecue’s laid-back atmosphere and personal touches. Doster encourages his staff to leave a mark on the eateries with their own wall decorations. Co-owner Beth Gray took doors from an old house and sandblasted and painted them funky colors before installing them at the Peachtree Corners restaurant.

“Everything on the walls is homemade, too,” Doster says. “We want the staff to show off their artistic side, and to place something inside the restaurant that they care about — that they think is cool, fun and different.”

The décor idea speaks to Cue Barbecue being a labor of love, Doster adds.

I don’t have to go to work,” he says. “I get to go to work.”

Cue Barbecue. 5260 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Peachtree Corners. 470-299-5117; 13700 Highway 9 North, Milton. 770-667-0089; 1370 Buford Highway, Cumming. 770-888-1048. cuebarbecue.com

Insider Tips:

Cue Barbecue hosts live music on Friday and Saturday nights, with a lineup that varies from blues and country to instrumental and ’90s alternative.

Cue rotates side dishes from week to week and offers seasonal items such as campfire butternut squash, smoked turkeys, green beans and corn casserole this fall.

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