My name is Ryan Lane, and I am the owner/founder of Lane’s BBQ based out of Bethlehem, Georgia. I have been married to Stacey for over 20 years and we have 2 incredible teenagers. Our son Riley is 16 and a junior in high school and our daughter Ansley is 14.
This is a story I’ve been wanting to tell for years! I have always had a love and passion for cooking and sharing a meal with friends and family. For me there is nothing like spending hours grilling/smoking over a fire to creating something special to share with those you love. For years prior to starting the business, I loved being able to provide meals to families or even cater a few special events like rehearsal dinners and men’s group retreats. Our community is so incredible and supportive, and I wanted to share my passion with them- and their bellies. It was all for fun and didn’t even occur to me to make a business out of it. I simply got paid in smiles…and loved seeing every single one of them.
Before I got into the crazy BBQ world, I had the pleasure to work with my brother in his business. We focused on small to mid-size group health insurance and employee benefits. I learned so much from Brett (my younger and much smarter brother) about building meaningful relationships and how to operate a business during the 5 years I spent at Encore Advisors.
I would have never imagined how much carryover there would be even, even though the types of business were so different. Insurance and BBQ are both heavily reliant on service and relationships. To this day, we still spend a good bit of time catering meals for some of those clients. Ultimately, I just never quite fell in love with insurance, and soon realized that I needed something that allowed me to serve others in a different way. Plus…I never felt comfortable in a shirt and tie. I feel much more myself in a hat, t-shirt, and shorts.
Brett and I closed our first 401K account and decided it would be super cool to buy a pull-behind smoker. You know…for the “business”. This was one of those smokers that you needed to tend to every couple of hours by adding a few pieces of wood. (Side note: This is where my addiction to cherry wood first began. I absolutely love the color and mild smoke flavor that it gives meat).
Our first event we used it for was a 25-year anniversary party at my mom’s work. We decided what better way to break in the pit, than to smoke a whole hog, plus briskets, pork butts, and some killer sides. Nothing like breaking in the smoker with a 150-plus-person event. Some things never change as we always seemed to swing for the fences. I can still remember staying up all night, tending the fire, being exhausted the next day, and loving every single minute of it. Seeing the lines of people come through the buffet and then the smiles…I can still see every smile.
The smoker served several purposes, as we even tried our hands at a couple local BBQ competitions. A group of my friends got together and set out to conquer the competition scene. We had a blast, and I can’t wait to tell you a bunch of those stories (especially the one about the one-legged chicken)! Our competition run didn’t last very long though, as we had way more fun hanging out and telling stories and often forgot that we were there to compete. However, we still added a couple of trophies to the case. We always seemed to crush the people’s choice categories which is where our backyard-style BBQ cooking came into play. The world of BBQ, the smiles, the rolling smoke, the crazy hours, trying new recipes, working to perfect the craft…I was hooked!
Now the hard part of convincing my wife that this was something I not only wanted to do but needed to do. It was soul-filling for me. I knew deep down that it was time to hang my own shingle and give it a go…