‘License to grill’: Family key to local eatery’s success

Published 11:30 am Friday, February 25, 2022

NILES — Laughter and sweet, savory smells billowed out of the kitchen at Curly Q’s BBQ, 1125 Wayne St.

Owner Tyler Haines, along with brothers Cameron and Jarren Haines and cousin Travis Edwards, were hard at work on the grills preparing afternoon orders and enjoying each other’s company.

The popular eatery owned and operated by Tyler Haines and wife Liz has become a community staple since opening in June 2018. Curly Q’s offers a barbeque menu that features items such as ribs, rib tips, BBQ chicken, catfish, perch, BBQ pulled pork and gourmet mac and cheese and baked beans.

A Cassopolis native, Haines and his family moved to Niles when he was 15 and has been a part of the community ever since.

Haines’ passion for barbecue comes from his family upbringing. His grandfather was a butcher and his father a pit master.

“We always understood that meat was the winner,” he said. “I was the kid that was in the kitchen with the grandmas and grandpas, always the taste tester.”

Haines has been cooking in the kitchen since he was nine years old. According to him, the restaurant’s name is a nickname his family gave him due to his enthusiasm to try test samples in the kitchen as a youth. Those moments are what inspire Haines to deliver a family experience to customers.

“Instead of calling me a pig, they called me curly because I had curly hair,” he said. “The passion has always been there. I’ve always liked this food and I know the food brings family together. That’s one of our mottos, ‘from our family to yours’. That’s what we try to do is feed everybody like family.”

For Haines, Curly Q’s is a true family affair. His brothers, cousin, wife and children each play important roles in making the business a success.

“My biggest joy is that I’m around my family every day,” he said. “It’s just a blessing to be around with your group and be able to provide for your family.”

Since opening, Curly Q’s has made an effort to engage and support the community. The business has collected school supplies for local students and has donated meals to the homeless population via the Ferry Street Resource Center.

In turn, Haines and his family have felt the support. The restaurant routinely sells out of product due to high demand from the public.

“It means a lot because at the end of the day, they’re choosing to allow us to feed them,” he said. “That’s just a blessing in itself; we don’t take it lightly. We come here and we don’t cut corners. We get here early and we start our grills early. We want to give more reasons to support us.”

As Curly Q’s moves toward its four year anniversary this summer, it continues to provide fresh, quality food to customers. While it has begun offering catering services, Haines insists that Curly Q’s traditional services will continue to be at the forefront of the business.

“My first priority is always the restaurant. We’re looking to get more into catering but the brick and mortar is where we’re at. I love to see the people and families who become family when they come here. My brothers are a little more ambitious. You can look forward to seeing us out more in the community.”

Haines hopes the success of his family’s business will inspire the next generation of black business owners to follow their dreams.

“i just want to give the young guys a different face of what we’re going through,” Haines said. “We can make it, it’s just about consistency and hard work. I call it the grind around here, it’s the stuff that nobody sees and you know that you just have to dig down deep and it’ll work out for you. … It’s a blessing to be able to show these young guys that there are other avenues out here to make money. I have a whole lot of them coming here; I just want them to see that the other side, that we can’t be business owners, that we are strong, smart and independent guys that they’re capable too.

“That’s that’s been a big you know a thing for me is just to show them be consistent and it’ll work out for you.”