Ford’s BBQ in Tucker granted variance for smokehouse

Main Street in downtown Tucker is reflected in the window of Ford’s BBQ during the Tucker Cruise-In on Saturday, May 8. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — Mixed messages between the city of Tucker, the fire marshal and Ford’s BBQ nearly sent the restaurant’s plans for a to-go window up in smoke.

While trying to revamp the location at 2331 Main Street, Ford’s BBQ was forced to accommodate “what equipment we could get our hands on,” specifically a larger refrigerator than anticipated. The floor plan changed and the smoker was pushed outside – into a smokehouse that was never permitted.

Appearing before Tucker Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 21, James Maggard, owner of Ford’s BBQ and Local 7, requested three variances to finish building a smokehouse. Maggard told Tucker’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 21 that it was all misunderstanding.

In December 2020, a 220 sq. ft. building on the western side of the main building was constructed to house the smoker and to-go orders at the suggestion of an inspector. The initial concept was a little league ballpark concession stand with two large windows, said Maggard.

Because the building was not permitted, it did not meet the city’s standards for DT-3, downtown district zoning. It was built in a rush, and Maggard later discovered he needed to work with the city on approval.

“This was the contractor trying anything and everything we can to try to get us out of the elements, out of the weather,” said Maggard, adding he would have preferred a more distinct, downtown Tucker look to the building.

City planner Kylie Thomas said Maggard tried to meet the intent of the DT-3 zoning district. “There’s a lot of give and take,” Thomas said of the cooperative applicant.

“It’s very difficult to facilitate both in person dining as well as our to-go [orders]. Being able to push that out into another area of the restaurant would be beneficial,” Maggard said of the smokehouse to-go concept.

The Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to approve all three variances with staff conditions, except for a restriction on painting the building. Ford’s BBQ is expected to open another location in Oakhurst.

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