NEW PALESTINE — The new varnish on the wooden floors inside the old Masonic Lodge in New Palestine give the building a fresh feel. Soon, as early as the first week in December, two new businesses will open there with distinctive and well-liked smells.
Smokin’ Barrel Barbeque, which also operates out of Camp Sertoma at 2316 South German Church Road, is adding to their business, creating a sit-down restaurant inside the Masonic Lodge. The business is owned by Mike and C.J. McFarland. They’re teaming up with another area businessman, Danny Tippit, the owner of Dry Bones Mud House coffee shop, with expectations of both businesses opening within the next four weeks.
“We’re creating kind of a food court,” Tippit said with a laugh. “They (Smokin’ Barrel) will have a second location, but for me, I’m moving my coffee shop from Indianapolis to New Palestine.”
C.J. said that she and her husband Mike, who have been operating Smokin’ Barrel Barbeque out of the Camp Sertoma since 2020, were approached by the owners of the Masonic Lodge to see if they’d be interested in expanding their business to also include their own sit-down restaurant.
When they found out the Masonic Lodge was open to letting them rent space, they asked their friend, Tippit, who had been eating their barbeque at the Sertoma spot, and the business owners determined it just seemed logical to bring the two businesses together in the same building.
“You can see it all start coming together, and I’m like ‘Oh my goodness, it’s really starting to all come together,’” C.J. said.
Mike is the pit-master at Camp Sertoma, making all kinds of barbeque every week. They’ll continue to serve their barbeque meals just like always at Camp Sertoma Thursday through Saturday. While the new sit-down restaurant will be open six days a week, Monday through Saturday, for lunch and dinner.
“We’re planning on doing a barbeque buffet here from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.,” C.J. said. “We’ll have one smoker here in New Pal to cook the quick items, but our brisket and the pulled pork, we’ll still make at Camp Sertoma, which is just five minutes down the road.”
They also plan to focus on some after school food for the young crowd at New Palestine High School, which is located just across the street.
“We expect we’ll continue to do a lot of catering,” C.J. said. “But, the reason we wanted to open this place is because a lot of people tell us they wished we had a restaurant sit-down atmosphere, whereas at Camp Sertoma we have like on Thursday’s barbeque and bingo, so there are about 200 people and it’s a completely different atmosphere.”
While they will continue to serve food during those three days at Camp Sertoma, the New Palestine location will have more of the sit-down family atmosphere.
The Dry Bones Mud House coffee shop is planning to be open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with an adjustment of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday’s Tippit said.
“We’ll offer everything coffee, but we’ll also bring in some new things to New Palestine, including some full brew Kombucha with some teas,” Tippit said.
Both businessowners are invested in the community and have children attending or having attended New Palestine schools.
“This has all been a community effort and a lot of work from family and friends, and there have been a lot of people helping us out with materials,” Mike said.
While some might not think barbeque and brew go well together, Tippit noted he’ll offer breakfast sandwiches and other things throughout the day as well as coffee and tea and desserts — things people can pop in and get as well as the Smokin’ Barrel Barbeque items.
“I fell in love with their barbeque and got to know them and now we’re opening businesses in the same building,” Tippit said of the union between the two operations. “Doing something like this, it’s one of the things C.J. and I’ve talked about and we’re all very community focused.”
While neither business will offer too many employment opportunities right off the bat, there will be a few positions open for adults or teenagers looking to work and gain some restaurant experience.