“The Ann Arbor community is underserved when it comes to barbecue,” says Nick Ferris, owner of the Old Carolina Barbecue Company franchise at Cranbrook Village. He seems to have called that right. Since the March opening, the line has often snaked out the door. On the menu are ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and turkey; sides of hush puppies, mac and cheese, two kinds of coleslaw, and a slew of other things; several kinds of barbecue sauce, including one with mustard; and, to drink, the rare and very Carolina soft drink Cheerwine. Ferris grew up in his granny’s restaurant in Green Bay, Wisconsin, called, natch, the Ferris Wheel, but he can speak corporate lingo. “There’s no other fast-casual concept quite like this. It’s a very distinctive style of barbecue with partial service: you order in a line, and your meal is brought to your table.”

Old Carolina is a small Ohio-based chain, and this is the first franchise outside the state. “We’re not on a fast growth projectile,” says Ferris. “We’re on a controlled growth projectile. We have visions of being national, but we won’t get there overnight. We’ll probably grow five to ten units this year.”

Old Carolina Barbecue Company, 980 Eisenhower Parkway (Cranbrook Village), 389-7100. Sun.-Thurs. 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. oldcarolina.com