TJ Ribs has signed a lease for a 6,800-square-foot building near the intersection of Airline Highway and Perkins Road in Prairieville with plans to open its third local restaurant by May 22.

The popular barbecue chain will take over the space at 37436 Ultima Plaza Blvd., which has been home for several restaurants, most recently Sliders Sports Grill.

The restaurant will have the same menu as the TJ Ribs South Acadian Thruway and Siegen Lane locations, said Todd McKearn, vice president of operations. One new feature is that the Prairieville space has a patio.

“That will be a lot of fun and there are possibilities with it,” McKearn said. About 70 employees will work at the restaurant.

The move works out well for TJ Ribs. The original Acadian Thruway location is set to undergo a significant remodeling beginning in July, which will involve gutting the interior, replacing the roof, building a gift shop in front and adding a cochon de lait pit where a pig will be roasted daily.

“We’ll be able to have our Acadian Thruway employees working in Prairieville while we remodel,” McKearn said. Plans are to finish the work in time for the LSU football season.

Sliders was open for several months before it closed in January. Mark Hebert, with Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate, said the restaurant was unable to rebound after the August flood disrupted the lives of so many people in Ascension Parish.

“We almost had TJ Ribs at the table before Sliders signed a lease,” said Hebert, who represented both parties in the deal. “When the restaurant closed, TJ Ribs called us back.”

Hebert said he’s thrilled to get TJ Ribs into the shopping center, which has a number of well-known brands, such as Raising Canes, Winn-Dixie and Smoothie King.

“Prairieville is growing by leaps and bounds,” he said.

McKearn said he isn’t worried about the Prairieville location cannibalizing business from the other TJ Ribs restaurants.

“Baton Rouge is so spread out,” he said, “and there are a lot of people who have moved out to Prairieville and would not drive back into town to eat, even to Siegen Lane.”

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.