JL’s bringing barbecue to Zebulon Road

JL’s Open Pit Barb-B-Q is bringing its ribs, pulled pork and smoked turkey to north Bibb County.

The restaurant just off Eisenhower Parkway at Interstate 475 plans to open its second location next month, in the Plantation Village shopping center on Zebulon Road.

“There’s a lot of people out here,” said Lisa Watson, who is opening the restaurant with her husband, Chris. “We have a lot of customers who live out here. They come by here, go to church out here. We’re missing them because they wind up staying out here rather than coming out to Eisenhower.”

The new JL’s is located in the former WiseGuys Wings site at 5966 Zebulon Road. The interior is being renovated, and the Watsons hope to open May 17.

“That’s what we’re shooting for,” Lisa Watson said. “The holdup right now is stuff coming in.”

The new restaurant will be much the same as the existing JL’s, she said, except for one notable difference — it will not have a salad bar. Watson’s father-in-law, J.L. Watson, a Floridian who frequently traveled through Macon on Interstate 475, opened the eatery on Eisenhower in the early 1980s as a Sonny’s chain restaurant, then about 10 years later decided to “buy his way out and go out on his own,” she said.

The restaurant underwent extensive renovations following the Mother’s Day tornado in 2008.

“We did a good bit of work to it, stuff that needed to be done,” Lisa Watson said. “The tornado kind of took care of it for us.”

Growth in north Bibb made Zebulon Road the logical place for a second restaurant, she said.

“This is one of the busier shopping centers with the Kroger out here. It’s kind of in the middle of a lot of schools, so it definitely catches a lot of traffic.”

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.