Smoking Hot: Billy Sims BBQ leads the growing fast-casual barbecue segment

Billy Sims BBQ, a fast-casual barbecue concept now in six states, is primed for rapid growth in 2015. In the competitive sea of the quick-service and fast-casual restaurant industry, Billy Sims BBQ is distinguishing itself as a unique up-and-coming player. “What stands out about our brand? Undeniably it’s our great-tasting barbecue,” says Jeff Jackson, co-founder and CEO of Billy Sims BBQ. “We also operate as a quick-service restaurant, which allows our franchisees to keep their overhead low and operate with fewer employees. We’re an economical start-up and we’re on the leading edge of the growing barbecue segment.”

Its first location in Tulsa, Oklahoma opened in 2004, and the company started franchising in 2009. Billy Sims BBQ has since grown to include 44 stores, three of which are corporate-owned. In 2014, it was named “One of the 10 Best BBQ Chains in America” by The Daily Meal, and USA Today called it one of the best athlete-based restaurant chains. Billy Sims BBQ also opened 10 new restaurants in 2014, with some franchisees adding second, third, and fourth locations. This year, the company is looking to expand nationwide, and is exploring franchising in all major markets.

Billy Sims BBQ is considering potential franchisees from a wide variety of backgrounds. Previous restaurant experience is a bonus, but not a requirement. “We are looking at multi-unit franchisees, those that already have chicken-, burger-, and pizza-type concepts in their portfolio but want to add another food concept,” Jackson says. “We’re also looking for corporate executives who want to break away from their current jobs, and we’re looking for the entrepreneurial person who wants to break out on their own by having their own business.”

The on-boarding process for new franchisees is a fairly quick one. “Each situation is different, but once the franchise site is selected and the lease is signed, we can be open in 11 weeks,” says Jackson. New franchisees also attend a four- to six-week training program at the Billy Sims BBQ corporate headquarters, where they learn, along with their managers and employees, the ins and outs of running a successful Billy Sims BBQ franchise.

The company also provides support for franchisees every step of the way, from site selection and store development to vendor partnerships and marketing. Additionally, it helps with the day-to-day aspects of running a business. “We provide continued field support with our operations team along with quarterly meetings, best practices, and operating manuals,” says Jackson.

Billy Sims BBQ’s menu is innovative, and designed to appeal to families. It includes nine meats, including favorites such as ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chicken, turkey, and bologna, all of which are smoked daily over pecan wood in every restaurant. All Billy Sims BBQ locations feature the smoker at the front of the restaurant, with a strategically placed cutting station that shows guests how the meats are prepared—by pulling them straight off the smoker and freshly slicing them before serving. “Fans can come enjoy some of the best barbecue in the country and feel confident they are going to consistently receive a quality meal on each visit,” Jackson says.

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