Billy Sims Barbecue Brings a Big Name to Quick Service: Quality food and low costs make the growing brand appealing

“Eat like a champion today.” That’s the slogan at Billy Sims Barbecue, the barbecue chain named after the Heisman trophy winner and former football star who played for the Detroit Lions and the University of Oklahoma. Today the former athlete is the CEO of the barbecue fast-casual concept and can be found leading the business’ rapid franchise expansion instead of leading a team to victory on the football field.

Even if you’re not a football fan, there are many reasons to love Billy Sims Barbecue. The barbecue chain attracts diners because of its crowd-pleasing menu boasting homemade barbecued meats, sandwiches, soups, and salads. “People love our bare-bones barbecue because it’s like what you would find at a backyard barbecue,” says Ryan Gray, CFO of Billy Sims. “It’s such a simple concept that people love it.”

The company works hard to recreate the satisfying flavor profiles of summertime barbecues and provides diners with the option of creating their own platters of barbecue sold by the pound, on a sandwich, or in a salad. Gray is an integral part of the executive team at Billy Sims and believes in the company so much that he joined the franchise team and owns five locations. He credits the success of the restaurant chain to the quality of the food and the relationships that the corporate team develops with franchise owners.

For franchisees looking to open a quick-serve restaurant with low overhead, Billy Sims Barbecue is a fantastic option. “We have a really small financial footprint compared to other brands,” Gray says. “We don’t have a huge equipment package and we’re economical.” The application process to own a location requires that the franchisee have liquid capital of $170,000 or more, and build-out of a location starts as low as $169,000, which is far less than other brands require. After being approved, franchisees are brought to the company headquarters in Oklahoma for a Discovery Day that includes meetings with the executive team as well as the sales and marketing teams, Gray explains.

There are lots of options for franchisees to build a location that works for their market. Billy Sims Barbecue is currently offering free-standing and in-line locations, as well as drive thrus. “We also connect new franchisees with existing franchisees so they can discuss what it’s like to run their own Billy Sims Barbecue location,” Gray says. He compares the process of becoming a franchisee to joining a family since the Billy Sims Barbecue team makes integrating new leaders into the company and building relationships with them a top priority. “We develop a close relationship with our franchisees, and we’ll hold their hand as much as they want to be held.”

Billy Sims might not be playing in football games any longer, but he is still very involved with the company that bears his name and even makes appearances at restaurant locations to interact with diners. Franchises looking to join a brand that allows them to eat like and work with a champion, should join the Billy Sims Barbecue team.

For more information about franchising opportunities with Billy Sims Barbecue, visit