Atlanta Classics: Brothers mark 20 years selling barbecue at their ‘neighborhood joint’

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Sitting in the Elvis Room at McDaniel’s QN2 BBQ in Sandy Springs, brothers Andy and Glenn McDaniel were explaining the origins of the memorabilia surrounding them — from keychains and ashtrays, to epoxy-coated pictures of the King.

“Tony Burdette from Buckhead Motor Works had all this stuff up in his attic, and we said, ‘We’ll give this crap a home,’” Glenn said, shaking his head. “Now, people are bringing us more stuff, like we need it.”

For 20 years, the former Happy Herman’s strip-center space on Johnson Ferry Road had been known as Slope’s BBQ. But, recently, in honor of reaching that milestone, the McDaniel brothers decided to change the name of the restaurant to be more representative of what they do Mondays-Saturdays.

“We were going to call it something like McDaniel’s Meat and Three,” Glenn said. “Then, one of my friends said, ‘You all should call it a QN2, instead of a meat and three,’ and we just liked the ring of it. We really are a meat-and-two, like most barbecue places.”

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Explaining how they got into the restaurant business, Andy said that, after college, “we had three fairly useless degrees between us — a religion degree, a communications degree, and a masters in economic philosophy — so, we needed jobs.”

Glenn went to work at the Derby restaurant at Perimeter Mall, and Andy took a job at the original Slope’s BBQ in Roswell.

“We were both thinking about opening a restaurant,” Glenn said. “I was in the management training program, and I didn’t care what we opened.”

“I had always had a deep, abiding love of barbecue, anyway, and, after a while, I thought about opening a Slope’s franchise,” Andy added.

Now that the brothers own both the Slope’s BBQ in Alpharetta and McDaniel’s QN2, the barbecue business is an even bigger family affair, with Glenn’s children working part-time at the restaurants.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

“My daughter was here today during lunch,” Glenn said. “My son has worked the register since he was 8. And, I mean, really worked the register.”

The hickory-smoked meats have remained much like what you’d find on the original Slope’s menu. Bestsellers include chopped pork, chopped chicken and St. Louis-style ribs, along with brisket, which was added by popular demand.

Nowadays, though, there are creative additions, designed for contemporary tastes and diets, such as loaded baked potatoes smoked in a Big Green Egg. There’s a salad special every day, and rotating dinner specials, including the likes of smoked lobster rolls and house-made sausage sliders.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

For festivals, the star of the menu is the handheld Cup of Q, layered with pork, sauce, slaw, and beans, and served in a cup with garlic toast and a fork.

“I’m not going to lie,” Andy said. “There might be something of the old Steve Martin Cup of Pizza guy in it, but people order it, because they think it’s funny, and then they love it.”

Barbecue geeks always are in search of sauce, and the McDaniel brothers offer four house-made bottled versions: a regular tomato-based sauce with “a little kick,” a tangy mustard sauce (a recent addition), a wing sauce and a vinegar hot sauce.

“We finally put them all out,” Glenn said. “Before that, only our regular sauce was on the table. Now, I’ve got people telling me the mustard sauce is awesome, and the hot sauce is awesome.”

After 20 years, the brothers still have regular customers who’ve been coming to the restaurant since Day One. Now, those customers are bringing their children and grandchildren with them.

One the most stalwart regulars, Ken Culpepper, is a Sandy Springs resident and information technology management consultant, who arrives most weekdays with his computer, orders lunch, and works through the afternoon.

“I like the fact that I can come in and work, or bring my Bible with me, and read the Scriptures, and just think,” Culpepper said. “It is about community, and living in Sandy Springs.”

Looking back on 20 years, the McDaniel brothers agree it has been quite a run.

“It’s kind of amazing we’re still together doing this, that the place is still here, after everything that’s changed in Sandy Springs,” Andy said. “You can’t throw a rock without hitting some chefy barbecue place with confit duck wings, or whatever. I like all that stuff. But, now, I look at this as the long-running neighborhood joint you love.”

“I’ve been married 24 years this year, and people ask me what’s the secret?” Glenn said. “I tell them we just like each other.

“Andy and I just like each other. We fight, we have problems, but we still like each other.”

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