MACEDONIA -- Owner Claude Booker calls his new eatery, "Sides To Go BBQ," which features Cajun Creole entrees, barbecue meats and "Southern style" side dishes, a "fast casual" place.

"Fast casual is a growing trend," he said. "It's in between 'sit down service' and 'fast food.'"

Sides To Go BBQ, 9828 Valley View Road in Macedonia, serves 26 side dishes, 10 barbecue meats, five Cajun entries, fried catfish, oysters, shrimp, pork chops, Southern style chicken wings and New Orleans bread pudding with a white chocolate sauce.

Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Booker also owns Simply Southern Sides, which produces Southern food for the military and grocery stores, and was one of the few area caterers selected to serve at last summer's Republican National Convention.

Booker and his wife Crystal opened Simply Southern Sides at 852 Highland Road in 2007.

"The food is being produced by someone who is unapologetically Southern," Booker said. "You're getting authentic cuisine from someone who grew up learning it and cooking it. The food is ingrained in me. I want folks to come in and say, 'It's authentic and it's good.' I want it to be fast, affordable and have a variety."

Booker said the variety is "the magic of what we're delivering."

"The food will transform you," he said. "Women will say, 'I haven't had tomatoes and okra since I was a little girl.' I give them a sample of crawfish etouffee and they wink. You give them a memorable experience and they love it."

The eatery has eight two-seater tables, "but the main thing is take-out," he said, adding he plans to extend the outdoor patio in the summer.

Booker, a standout football player as a defensive end in high school in South Carolina, passed up a football scholarship to Wingate University in Charlotte, N.C., so he could attend Johnson and Wales University for culinary arts in Providence, R.I.

"It was the best decision I ever made," he said. "My heart is in food. I'm really passionate about it. It's in my blood. There is no equalizer for bringing people together like the love of food. At our restaurant, you see youngsters and older folks. Food is universal.

"I saw northeast Ohio did not have Southern food, so I'm excited that I brought this to the Macedonia area," he added. "I hope to create the next big thing in the 'fast casual' arena."

For more information, call the restaurant at 330-908-0322.

Mike Lesko: 330-541-9432

mlesko@recordpub.com

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