George Weaver Jr. believes in second chances.
Stuck in prison, the Lincoln man knew he needed to make changes in his life. So when he got out in 2012, he did just that.
He earned a degree from Kaplan University in 2015 and worked at a variety of Lincoln restaurants before opening his own place in June.
Today, GrannyWeavs Soul Food and Catering located behind Outback Steakhouse at 621 N. 48th St., Suite 5, is home to some of the city’s best fried chicken. Weaver also smokes some tasty ribs. So much so that last Saturday he ran out of them, and it was just 5 p.m.
GrannyWeavs is named in remembrance of Weaver’s grandmother, who passed away 14 years ago.
Weaver said the restaurant’s recipes are hers that he’s “finessed,” such as the delicious baked beans, potato salad and cole slaw. Other homemade sides include baked macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, macaroni salad and collard greens.
Like his friend Marcus Pierson, who operates Lincoln’s gourmet hot dog store, FlyDogz, Weaver started by selling food from his house, beginning with the caramel cakes that are a part of GrannyWeavs’ menu.
“I was making more money than I was at my full-time job,” he admitted. “That's when I knew I had to find a building somewhere.”
Pierson told Weaver about the location behind Outback. It previously had been home to the Smokehouse Deli and had sat vacant for some time.
Weaver’s business picked up where it left off from his home. It’s going so well that he plans to introduce fried fish -- catfish and buffalo fish -- beginning Friday. On Aug. 20, he’ll introduce a Sunday brunch, which will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The fried chicken is amazing. I paid $2 extra to get two breasts for my two-piece chicken, which usually runs $6.49. The chicken was extremely juicy, and Weaver’s breading was crunchy and layered just right.
My wife couldn’t stop talking about her beef brisket. She ordered the sandwich combo ($6.99), with the meal featuring thick-sliced brisket heaped on the bun. Combos include two of the homemade sides and a drink.
On Tuesday, I went back for the ribs after having missed them on Saturday. Not as thick as you’ll find at Ribfest next week, they still were meaty enough, slathered in a rich, sweet sauce. I ordered a rib dinner ($9.99). GrannyWeavs also sells half slabs ($12.49) and full slabs ($20.99).
While we were waiting Saturday for our food, one of the staff members came out of the kitchen with complimentary funnel cake fries. Small orders regularly are $4.99 and are a sweet way to end a meal. Or you can go with a $2.99 slice of caramel, chocolate, strawberry cake. Grade: A
Service and atmosphere
GrannyWeavs reminds me of BBQ places I’ve dined at in Kansas City -- frenetic with activity and chatter, especially among the staff. Weaver, from his post at the window, works as an air traffic controller, communicating nonstop with his staff and keeping an eye on customers to make sure they haven’t been waiting too long.
Diners order at the counter and are given receipts with numbers on them. There are a handful of tables, but most customers order takeout, as I did on both of my visits. Depending on the crowd and the order, the wait is between five and 15 minutes. Grade: B
Right now, other than the homemade sides and desserts, the in-store menu doesn’t include any vegetarian options, but it’s a store built on smoked meats and fried chicken. Gluten-free diners could pair some of the smoked fare with veggie sides but should check with the kitchen to be safe. Grade: C-
Reach the writer at 402-473-7213 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @LJSjeffkorbelik.