For decades, the Lanning family has satisfied cravings at Rick’s Barbecue, whether it’s pork, beef, chicken, sugar-cured ham or sliced/whole smoked chickens.

As a 20-year-old student at the University of North Alabama, Rick Lanning learned to cook barbecue. Five years later, he opened a small carryout/drive-through restaurant in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. He soon added another outlet in Tennessee and in Muscle Shoals.

Rick’s in Madison is located at 7929 U.S. 72, formerly home to Thomas Pit Bar-B-Q. Around 2006, Rick Lanning, owner/president of Rick’s, tried to buy Thomas Pit. In 2013, James Thomas sold his iconic eatery to Glen Garcia, who later decided to build his Mexican restaurant elsewhere. Garcia sold the property to Lanning.

Currently, Rick’s sons help their father. Ty Lanning manages Rick’s Barbecue in Madison and is the corporation’s director of retail operations. Rick’s younger son, Eric, is director of wholesale and manufacturing operations.

Guests enjoy eating at Rick’s Barbecue for the menu variety and “100 percent pure meat products,” Ty said. “We hickory smoke our meats on our pits, custom-designed by Rick himself, for over 24 hours to ensure the perfection needed to hand pull the meats the old-fashioned way just for our customers.”

Rick’s Barbecue is “one of the only large barbecue wholesalers for grocery chains that (allows) customers to dine in with us and then pick up a vacuum-sealed pack of the exact same barbecue at their local grocery to have at home or take to work,” Ty said. “This keeps us accountable on a large scale.”

The restaurant’s decor offers an inviting environment in contemporary design with natural elements of stone and metals. With its urban look, Rick’s “takes great pride in offering our customers a very pleasant dine-in or drive-through experience,” Ty said.

Rick’s giant baked potato, loaded with smoked meats and toppings, is a customer favorite. “Our smoked chicken is one of the favorite meats, along with our dry ribs,” Ty said. “Rick has always been a firm believer that great meats should stand on their own and not have to be drowned in sauce to be appetizing.”

Hand-dipped chicken tenders keep diners coming back. “Our custom-made sauces are exceptional complements to each meat,” Ty said.

“One of the most unusual and less known meats in Alabama is our sugar-cured, hickory-smoked, hand-pulled ham. Our hot ham and cheese is amazing,” Ty said. Ham from Rick’s Barbecue is welcomed at any holiday gathering, from July 4 picnics to Christmas dinner.

“Each of our meats is tender, juicy, flavorful and of high quality. Each can stand alone without sauce and remain delicious,” Ty said. The Lannings do not add fats or unnatural preservatives to any meat. “Thus, our meats are great choices for anyone desiring real food for healthier dining choices.”

What is Ty’s personal favorite? He always orders the smoked chicken breast platter.

Rick’s Barbecue also caters to any size group. Rick’s is open Monday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, Rick’s is open until 10 p.m.

Rick’s Barbecue Inc. is parent corporation for all locations in southern middle Tennessee and Alabama. The subsidiary Rick’s Barbecue Alabama Inc. owns restaurants in Madison, Muscle Shoals and two in Florence. With 37 years in business, Rick’s Barbecue Inc. and subsidiaries are privately owned and operated. The company employs about 200 people.

For more information, call 256-325-5907, email or visit, Facebook/Ricks Barbecue, Instagram: ricksbbq or Twitter @RicksBBQInc.