The Peanut Barrel Restaurant was originally opened as a Jacks or Better Restaurant in November of 1973 by Carol and Gordon Smith of Portland. The concept emerged from an idea that Mr. Smith developed at Howard Johnson’s called The Ground Round restaurant. Large juicy burgers, cold beer and peanuts were the order of the day. It still is today. In ’74 the restaurant name was changed to The Peanut Barrel and the footprint included what is now the MSU Federal Credit Union.
In 1979 the Barrel was downsized and the original lounge side was remodeled to be a self sustaining bar business. Thus the beginning of The Peanut Barrel as we know it today. In July of 1980 the Smiths sold the business to Jennifer and Joe Bell who promptly added a kitchen and hence the birth of the Papa Joe Burger. It remains their family business to this day.
In the spring of 1983 a patio was added to the front of the building when property owner Robert Phipps refurbished and enlarged the entire building to present a more attractive street appearance. His vision has stood the test of time as the building continues to be one of the most attractive on Grand River Ave.
Throughout the 80’s and 90’s The Peanut Barrel established a reputation as the place for great burgers, sandwiches, fries and a brew. The patio may be the most popular in East Lansing and inspired the Barrel’s famous Long Island Iced Tea. On football Saturdays you can sit on the Peanut Barrel Patio and hear the crowd at the stadium. If the wind is blowing out of the south you might just hear the fabulous Michigan State Marching Band performing their halftime show.