“It’s a family type of town,” says owner Tonya Stanton
by Ashlee De Wit
LANSING, Ill. (September 2017) – “Let me tell you—when we would go to my grandma’s picnics, it was the most fun,” Tonya Stanton says. “Man, we had so much fun.”
Stanton is the owner of BackYard Que, a new barbecue restaurant in Lansing. It’s located just off Ridge Road and Roy Street, between the Chamber of Commerce office and the back entrance to Gayety’s.
“When we went to one of those family barbecues, [there would be] music, and you’d go see all your cousins, and they’re playing football, volleyball, soccer. You’ve got that barbecue from the grill—you’ve got the links, the hot dogs, hamburgers. My auntie would open that macaroni and cheese, and you think, ‘This is why I didn’t eat anything last night.’ You’ve got greens—and the candied yams! My grandma would make them, and those sweet potatoes tasted like candy for real.
“I’m just saying, those were the days.”
That’s the feeling Tonya is going for in her new restaurant—a backyard family barbecue, just like the name says. And that’s why she chose to open the restaurant in Lansing—it was a perfect location for a place with a family feel.
“Even before we moved to Lansing, I loved Lansing,” she remembers. “I would drive down Ridge and just smile. I admired the community, the people sitting out front of the businesses. It just made me happy. It’s a family type of town.”
Family and Friends
Before opening BackYard Que, Stanton was catering—first for family and friends, and then as she expanded her business, she started renting out other restaurants to cook in. But her primary job was working as a P.E. teacher in South Holland. She loved her time there—but when her mother died, she found that she no longer wanted to go to work. “I was just numb,” she recalls. She needed a change.
For years, she and her husband had talked about opening a restaurant. “My mom wanted to be a part of it. She said she was going to sit at the register,” Stanton says. “So we put her picture up there; she’s sitting by the register.”
Tonya does all the cooking for the restaurant, and she still offers catering at her new location. Some of the recipes are her own; others are from her mom, grandma, aunts, cousin, and daughter. When you stop in, you can try the ribs, the barbecue chicken, the cornbread and coleslaw and candied yams—just don’t ask for fries.
“Do you find fries at a backyard barbecue?” Stanton laughs.
Her suggestion? If it’s your first time ordering, get her favorite: hot links, tips, and baked beans. “Crystal’s corn on the cob is pretty good too,” she said.
Stanton’s daughters, Crystal and China, both work at the restaurant. Her husband, Joey, and her brother, Lorenzo Davis, do the grilling on their barbecue pit, which is filled with hickory wood chips.
“Family is working here right now, but I’m looking to hire people in the community—and then they can become family,” Stanton says.
Everyone who walks in to BackYard Que is family—at least, that’s how Stanton wants them to feel. “You can put your elbows on the table, lick your fingers…water my plants,” Stanton laughs. “Just be you. I want [customers] to come in and be comfortable. That’s why we’re cracking jokes, laughing, taking pictures, and dancing.”
She’ll even snap your photo with her decorated frame, and put it up on Facebook. “Once you’re framed, you’re family—and I’m posting you,” she says.
BackYard Que is open noon–8:30pm Sunday–Thursday, and noon–9:30pm Friday and Saturday.