Tulsa, Oklahoma–based Billy Sims BBQ, a fast-casual barbecue concept, opens its 44th location on December 19 in Ardmore, Oklahoma, at 322 N. Commerce St. Founded by 1978 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims and cofounder Jeff Jackson, Billy Sims BBQ opened 11 new restaurants in 2014.

The Ardmore franchisees, pharmacist Rich McCormack and managing partner Geary McCormack, will celebrate their new location with a grand opening celebration on December 20, with free prizes for the first 50 customers and in-store contests held throughout the day. The celebration will continue with special in-store appearances by Billy Sims on December 19 from 11 am to 2 p.m., December 20 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and December 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sims will sign autographs and meet fans. 

The restaurant is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Ardmore location is the first for the McCormacks. The other 10 new restaurants in 2014 are from existing franchisees that are opening their second, third, or fourth Billy Sims BBQ restaurant. Named by USA Today as one of the top athlete-based restaurant chains, Billy Sims BBQ is an economy-based franchise, offering entrepreneurs and multi-concept operators a cost-effective opportunity to enter the fast-casual barbecue segment and diversify their operating portfolio.

“We are delighted to be opening our first of two Billy Sims BBQ restaurants,” says Rich McCormack. “What first attracted us to the Billy Sims BBQ brand was the quality of the food, ease of operations, low overhead costs, and the fact that it is a proven concept in many different markets.”

Awarded “One of the 10 Best BBQ Chains in America” in 2014 by The Daily Meal, Billy Sims BBQ is celebrating its 10th year in 2014. In 2004, Billy Sims and Jeff Jackson, who knew each other from the retail sports arena, began a conversation about great barbecue and their families’ secret recipes. Shortly thereafter, Billy Sims BBQ was born with proprietary recipes and processes for preparing and smoking barbecue.

Following the success of the first five corporate Billy Sims BBQ restaurants, Sims and Jackson began franchising their concept in 2009. In five short years, the Billy Sims Barbecue brand has grown to 44 franchised locations, with many more markets in development.

Billy Sims BBQ’s menu includes nine meats, including favorites such as ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chicken, turkey, and bologna. All meats are smoked daily over pecan wood in every restaurant. Completing the lineup are traditional sides with a twist, such as baked potatoes smoked in the smoker, potato salad, freshly smoked corn-on-the-cob, coleslaw, baked beans, green beans with bacon, and entrée size salads with fresh vegetables.

The new Ardmore location is a freestanding unit with a drive-thru window. The 2,100-square-foot restaurant will feature the newest features and an updated logo. All Billy Sims BBQ restaurants showcase the smoker in the front of the restaurant with a strategically placed cutting station which shows guests that meats are pulled right off the smoker and freshly sliced prior to serving.

“Fans can come enjoy some of the best BBQ in the country and feel confident they are going to consistently receive a quality meal on each visit,” says Jackson, cofounder of Billy Sims BBQ. “We offer an efficient model that allows our guests to select their meal options and begin their dining experience in a quick, convenient manner while enjoying the freshest, award-winning barbecue around in a casual, family-friendly environment.”

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Fast Casual, Growth, News, Billy Sims BBQ