Indian Land’s 521 BBQ opening another branch in Tega Cay

mharrison@fortmilltimes.comJanuary 6, 2014 

— Where Cuban food failed to take hold, Mike Dial is counting on barbecue to be a big seller.

The owner of 521 Barbecue, a popular Indian Land restaurant for the better part of a decade, is opening up a second location in Tega Cay’s Stonecrest community near the Walmart off S.C. 160 West. Dial said he expects to open Feb. 4. Until then, crews are working to retrofit what until last fall had been Carlos Cafe.

“That’s our goal,” Dial said. “It all depends on our contractor getting the hood in. We had to do some special things to make Tega Cay [officials] and DHEC happy. But there shouldn’t be anything holding us back from opening on Feb. 4.”

He had to get creative to meet city and state codes, Dial said: Rather than one big smoker the same size as the one at the Indian Land restaurant, the Tega Cay branch of 521 Barbecue will use three smaller smokers. The output – and perhaps most important, the taste – will be the same, Dial said.

Carlos Cafe, a Cuban restaurant, moved to Stonecrest from Rock Hill more than two years ago. Last year, the restaurant’s owner, citing the electronic theft of customers’ debit and credit card numbers, and other factors, said he worried how long he could stay open. Carlos Cafe quietly closed last fall.

Dial said most of the cosmetic work now underway involves painting. He’s also installing another counter for a waitstaff station.

“It’s just for efficiency,” he said. “It’s something I found that works.”

The bar left over from Carlos Cafe will remain, but will serve only beer and wine.

“We didn’t want to do liquor,” Dial said.

“We’re not a bar. We’ll have six craft beers on tap and if you want to have a beer or some wine with your meal, that’s fine, but we want it to be a place where you bring your kids, not sit and drink all day. It’s a family atmosphere.”

Working on plans to open a second branch for more than a year, Dial said he was hoping to find a suitable location in this area.

“We’d been looking for a while,” he said. “Nothing really worked out [for a location] in Rock Hill and we’ve been looking at the Fort Mill-Tega Cay area for a long time.”

Community involvement, including continuing to support the Fort Mill-based Humane Society of Fort Mill, will be part of the restaurant’s experience in Tega Cay, Dial said.

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