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History of a Dog...

Good food,

good friends,

great BBQ

    In 2005, Wayne Babcock had an idea to improve downtown Jonesville. Already the successful owner of The ChicagoWater Grill in our small town, he decided to open a second restaurant – featuring barbeque – across the street from his original. To develop the menu for the new restaurant, Wayne traveled to gather culinary inspiration straight from the source of some of the best sauce: Memphis, Tennessee. After an immersive two weeks down South, he was ready to bring Jonesville a taste of quality barbeque. Saucy Dog’s BBQ as we know it was born.


    Planning the theme for the new restaurant was a fun pivot from the mid-to-upscale dining experience that was The ChicagoWater Grill. For Saucy Dog’s, Wayne envisioned a traditional, casual, sit-down dining experience that was accessible to everyone. Saucy Dog’s BBQ has always been about the sauce in every way, even the red-and-yellow motif represents ketchup and mustard! Indoor picnic tables invite patrons to come in and relax. The image of the Dog itself was inspired by Wayne’s lifelong love for boxers.


    Current owner Mike Sweeney has been there for Saucy Dog’s since he was just 16. After a brief stint as a busser at ChicagoWater Grill, Wayne was impressed with Mike but knew he would be better suited to Saucy Dog’s faster pace. As the years flew by, Mike proved himself to be an asset to the restaurant as he moved up the ranks and worked nearly every position possible: dishwashing, hosting, serving, bartending – eventually mastering the front of house. Mike left Saucy Dog’s in 2016 to follow his dream of riding cross-country on a motorcycle. He returned the very next year and approached Wayne to buy the restaurant he grew up with.


    Wayne was on board with the purchase, but true to his commitment to excellent management, he made sure Mike was ready to pitch in everywhere, especially in the kitchen. To quote Wayne’s advice: “The heart and soul of any restaurant is the kitchen. If the kitchen fails, the server fails, and you’re done.” Pleased with Mike’s ambition and growing kitchen skill, Wayne happily gave his seal of approval. On July 5th, 2017, Mike Sweeney became the official owner of Saucy Dog’s BBQ.


    Like every restaurant, Saucy Dog’s has faced its challenges. In 2018, pipes in the kitchen burst, leading to a 6-week reconstruction process. In 2020, COVID-19 reared its ugly head and impacted the food industry as a whole. Despite the hurdles, Mike is committed to keeping Saucy Dog’s BBQ true to its roots while spicing things up here and there. According to Mike: “I’m going to be here for a long time, so I’ve got plenty of time to think about any changes I want to do and do them nice and slow.”

After all these years, we’re the same old Dog, yet continue to learn new tricks each day from the people we serve.

Saucy Dogs logo

Written by Alyssa Wiseley

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