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BBQ Pete’s is opening a Pierce County restaurant

BBQ Pete's pulled pork sandwich

The ribs from BBQ Pete’s are returning to Pierce County, and I’m not talking about the short run the longtime local barbecue restaurant has every year at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup. I’m talking another brick-and-mortar restaurant and it’ll be in Lakewood Towne Center.

Expect a spring opening, and not any sooner. The restaurant is currently in permitting, which is taking about as long as you’d expect considering how much smoke and fire is involved at BBQ Pete’s.


BBQ Pete’s is opening its new location – finally. Here are details

The Lakewood location will mirror the BBQ Pete’s Kent restaurant (more on that in a minute). “I’m excited about the pits and smokestacks going in,” explained Ryan Peterson, son of restaurant founder Pete Peterson. Ryan Peterson runs the BBQ Pete’s operation now that his father has retired from the restaurant business.

“It’s in a similar style strip (as our Kent location) at Lakewood Towne Center. I think it will be a hidden gem in its unassuming surroundings,” Peterson described.

BBQ Pete's in Kent
BBQ Pete’s Kent location will be similar to the Lakewood location.
Sue Kidd/Dine Pierce County

Back up to 1972 to the beginning of the BBQ Pete’s story in Pierce County. That’s when Ryan’s dad opened his Tacoma restaurant. The family expanded the barbecue restaurant to the Washington State Fair four years later. They continued serving at the fair even after they closed their Tacoma location many years ago. And the family also kept the fair service going while Ryan opened the BBQ Pete’s in Kent in 2008.


Expect the Lakewood location to be the “same size and counter service format,” as Kent, he said.

“And, it will have greater makeline capacity, which is the roadblock to growth in Kent, where we are maxed out and have to limit pre-orders during peak times. The industry’s move to more on-demand pre-order takeout has only accelerated over the past decade. Almost half of Kent’s orders are takeout. Could be 60 percent take-out and 40 percent dine-in in the next couple years. So Lakewood will have kitchen capacity to better serve pre-orders.”

BBQ Pete's dining room
BBQ Pete’s dining room. Sue Kidd/Dine Pierce County

To that end, the Lakewood location won’t look or feel exactly like the BBQ Pete’s in Tacoma in the 1970s. “There will be Pierce County people who remember my dad’s restaurants in the 70s/80s and make comparisons,” he said.

Peterson added, “Some may expect that format with full waitstaff, full bar, and the honey drop. Sorry, I can’t deliver on that in 2020. But I can deliver what I’m good at today.”

BBQ Pete's Barbecue sauce
The barbecue sauce selection at BBQ Pete’s.
Sue Kidd/Dine Pierce County

What he’s good at is slow-cooked, alderwood smoked barbecue and speedy service. Diners order at the counter at the Kent location and find their own seat at the picnic tables spanning the dining room or at the al fresco courtyard that spills out of the restaurant and into the parking lot.


Instead of the honey drop where servers climb up on a steep ladder and drizzle honey down below on a plate of corn bread (some of you might recall how Kent’s H.D. Hotspurs also performed that time-honored tradition), Peterson said the updated version of BBQ Pete’s focuses on a style of service good for families and those dining on-the-go.

BBQ Pete's outdoor seating
BBQ Pete’s outdoor seating.
Sue Kidd/Dine Pierce County

Want that honey butter? You might not get it drizzled from a stepladder, but you can load up on as many containers of it as you want by the serve-yourself barbecue sauce stocked with four kinds of barbecue sauce.

BBQ Pete's ice cream machine
BBQ Pete’s offers free ice cream in the dining room.
Sue Kidd/Dine Pierce County

I noted on a recent visit to the Kent location that the restaurant is all about the freebies – free ice cream cones, a pickle bar, free fry sauce and the barbecue sauce bar. I admire a restaurant that doesn’t upsell on every little condiment and all hail the restaurant that offers a free self-serve ice cream machine in the dining room.

BBQ Pete's Honey butter
Honey butter is one of the several free condiments offered at BBQ Pete’s.
Sue Kidd/Dine Pierce County

But first, another Lakewood tip. Go Philly, the Tacoma Avenue restaurant known for its wings and cheesesteak sandwiches, is expanding to Lakewood. It’ll be a bit before the opening said Go Philly’s Nicole Anthony. “We’re getting closer,” she said. I’ll keep you posted. When they open, you can find them at 7421 Custer Road W., Lakewood.

Here’s a look at the BBQ Pete’s Kent menu for those who have never been:

BBQ Pete's menu
BBQ Pete's menu

Kent location: 6621 S. 211th St., Kent; 425-251-0778
Lakewood: 6111 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd SW, Lakewood

UPDATE: BBQ PETE’S OPENED ON SEPT. 4, 2020 READ MORE AT THIS LINK: https://dinepiercecounty.com/2020/09/04/bbq-petes-is-opening-its-new-location-finally-here-are-details/

Did you see my story about Tacoma Baking Company opening? READ IT!