Georgia-style’rules at 'cue Barbecue

in simple, Southern recipes

Paul Doster (back right) with the gang at 'cue barbecue.
Half rack with grilled pineapple and bacon beans.
Bowl of brunswick stew.
Chopped pork sandwich platter with mac and cheese and 'cue slaw.
Southwestern chicken salad.
‘cue Barbecue 13700 Hwy 9 N Milton, Ga 30004 770-714-1146

‘cue Barbecue

13700 Hwy 9 N

Milton, Ga 30004


The menu at ‘cue Barbecue is an array of meats and sides for every hankering, but here, according to owner Paul Doster, pork rules supreme.

“Our barbecue is what we consider ‘Georgia style’ as that’s where I’m from and the style I grew up with,” says Doster, who hails from LaGrange. “Pork is the main attraction whether it be chopped smoked butts or those delicious baby back ribs or the homemade pork sausage.”

And pairing it up with in-season vegetables and bread made from scratch has kept the lines long at ‘cue since it opened in 2008 off Highway 9 in Milton.  

“We believe in homemaking everything and putting forth the effort it takes to make great food,” said Doster, noting most items are made in house, from the sauces to the pickles to the hand-cut fries.

Doster has been in the restaurant business for 35 years, opening his first restaurants in Hilton Head and Columbia, South Carolina, after graduating from Auburn University with a degree in food service management. 

He and wife, Doreen, whom he met in Hilton Head and who works alongside him at ‘cue, moved to Alpharetta in 1999 to start a family “somewhere other than a resort community.” Their family now includes daughter Abby, a freshman at Milton High School, and Jake, a seventh-grader at Northwestern Middle.

Back in Georgia, Doster opened his first barbecue restaurant, The Swallow at the Hollow, in Roswell with a partner and left in 2007. He soon partnered with Beth Gray, a longtime friend with a business background, to open ‘cue Barbecue in Milton primarily as a catering venture.

“But, last minute, we saw a chance to put 40 to 50 seats in the location we had picked out and open a storefront as well,” said Doster of the decision to move from catering only to a full-service restaurant. 

The timing for the new restaurant coincided with the financial meltdown across the country, but Doster knew he had a winning concept.

“We did open during the crux of the economic downturn but had a great following and were thankfully on a wait on day three,” he said. “The main issue was getting folks to know where we had landed, but after a few months the word spread and more and more people came out to give us a shot.”

The recipes are a mix of Doster’s own creations, some from previous partnerships and others from treasured family recipes, including his grandmother’s bourbon sweet potato casserole. 

“Most recipes were just gathered from many years of doing this,” he said of his three decades in the food business.

When asked to describe the “perfect meal” Doster quickly rattles off his top choices.

“Easy.  Chopped pork platter, yummy coleslaw and hand-cut fries. Wait, maybe a full rack of baby back ribs and a cold beer? Or the Southwest chicken salad?” he says, laughing.

Doster surveys a bustling dining room and knows he has defied the odds in an industry which sees more than 50 percent of new restaurants close in the first year. But he points out there are no magic formulas for success, just the basics.

“There is no secret. Make good food, serve it by good people and charge a fair price. Your staff must work with you … not for you,” says the industry veteran.

Doster also recognizes the need for ‘cue to be a part of the community, and participates regularly in school activities, fundraisers, hospital events and city-sponsored events.

“You can’t sponsor every softball or baseball team, but you can certainly donate some pork to their banquets or a gift certificate to their fundraiser,” said Doster. “To quote a songwriter friend of mine, ‘Help somebody if you can.’”

In addition  to the Milton location, Doster has since opened two more ‘cue Barbecue restaurants – the first franchise location in Cumming in 2010, followed by a third location in Peachtree Corners in 2014—and is looking for a fourth site. Also in the works is a “commissary” which will allow a central location to make some menu items for the restaurants, improving consistency and lightening the load on the kitchens.

But as the business grows, Doster said the mission and philosophy of ‘cue has stayed the same.

“Put out the best food you can make, serve it by some sweet people at a fair price and you’ll be fine.”


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