By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jul 10, 2018 at 10:01 AM

Beginning today, guests will be able to enjoy the full benefit of the recent expansion at Pat’s Rib Place, 151 E. Sunset Dr. in Waukesha.

The restaurant, which specializes in Southern-style barbecue with all the fixin’s, has operated for almost a decade a 1,200-square foot retail space in an unobtrusive strip mall. But thanks to a recent expansion, the venue now sports a beautiful new dining room, private dining area and enough space to accommodate occasional live music performances.

The restaurant has been serving customers at newly installed bar seating along the front windows for a couple of weeks now. However, the restaurant will break in its brand new dining room today beginning at 11 a.m.

A long time coming

Owners Alisha and Tydus Hayes have been hoping to expand their 26-seat restaurant for years. But it wasn’t until the neighboring retail tenant relocated that they were able to pursue their plans.

"We run into so many customers who want to dine in," notes Tydus. "But with such limited seating, we’ve been unable to accommodate them, especially larger parties."

Once they secured the space, they worked with designers from RCS Innovations and John Miller of Western Contractors of Milwaukee to proceed with an eight-month renovation, resulting in a new 1,600-square foot dining room that seats 78 guests.

The beautiful space, painted in deep charcoal and warm rusty red tones, now sports brand new booths and modern industrial-chic tables and chairs.

Partitions separate the dining room from the ordering counter. Meanwhile, colorful framed prints of blues artists, including B.B. King, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy, enhance the walls.

The new dining area also includes a private dining room that can be reserved for parties up to 10 for $25. Alisha notes that it’s best to call ahead for reservations of the space, but that it is available to walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.

Even the ordering counter and bar have also been given a refresh, complete with repurposed wood facing, new paint and flooring.

Alisha says that the restaurant will continue to operate with its usual fast-casual counter service model. However, once customers have placed their order, they’ll receive a buzzer they can take with them to their table. It will notify them when they can return to pick up their food.

Thanks to a fair amount of additional space at the rear of the dining room, Pat's also has enough space to host live blues music.

"We had always talked about having room for some live music," Alisha says. "But it was something we just couldn’t do. We both went to school for the arts, and we love music, so we’re really looking forward to that … more fellowship and good times."

In the next month or two, the Hayeses are also planning to add Sunday brunch. The menu will feature a combination of Southern specialties, including shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles, along with a few barbecue staples. You can watch the Pat’s Rib Place Facebook page for details as they develop. 

What regular customers already know

If you’ve not been to Pat’s in some time, you might be surprised by the breadth of the restaurant’s menu, which not only includes barbecue, but also southern specialties like fried fish (catfish, cod or perch), fried chicken or boneless wings.

Barbecued meats are smoked daily (often for as many as 14 hours) over a combination of apple, cherry and hickory woods, notes Tydus, who says he smokes a day’s worth of meat in two batches – one to serve the lunch crowd and another for dinner.

Among popular items are the restaurant’s barbecued spare ribs, baby back ribs and beef ribs along with rib tips, pulled pork and brisket.

Dinners, which are priced $10.99-12.99, include fries, coleslaw and baked beans. Ribs can be ordered by the whole or half rack (priced in the $14-25 range). Meat and sides can also be ordered by the pound to feed a crowd.

Sides include cole slaw, baked beans, seasoned "smokey" fries, sweet potato fries, fried okra, fried pickles, macaroni and cheese bites, sweet corn nuggets, fried string beans and corn bread.

All barbecue can be augmented with the restaurant’s signature housemade sauces, which include Pat’s House (red mild sauce), Brown Brown (featuring a brown sugar and molasses base), Alisha’s Special (sweet and spicy), Apple Chunky (a tangy sauce with apples) and Memphis Mad Dog (spicy). They're also available for purchase in jars to take home.

Desserts include Sprecher soda floats and peach cobbler and bread pudding made by La Tarte Bakery. For the full menu, visit

Like any good barbecue spot, at Pat’s Rib Place a limited amount of meat is available daily, so it’s best to come early to get the best selection. Regulars at Pat’s also know a valuable secret: it’s possible to call early in the day and pre-order  smoked meats for pick-up.

"Sometimes," Alisha says, "especially on weekends, our ribs are sold out before they even leave the smokers."

Pat’s Rib Place is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. You can follow Pat's on Facebook and Twitter.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.