Billy Sims Opens New Barbecue Places

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Legendary Lions running back Billy Sims has returned to Detroit, but this time he's smoking pork butts and briskets -- not some unlucky defender on the football field.

The first Michigan outpost of his Oklahoma-based Billy Sims Barbecue restaurant chain opened in Southfield two weeks ago, and Sims and fellow Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens will be there Saturday and Sunday to sign autographs and greet fans.

Sims, a No. 1 draft pick who played for the Lions from 1980 through 1984, is still the team's second-leading rusher behind Barry Sanders, despite having played fewer than five complete seasons. A knee injury in a 1984 game against the Minnesota Vikings ended his career.

His eponymous barbecue chain has 23 stores in Oklahoma and two in Missouri. Sims will open a second Michigan restaurant next month at 3695 Dix Highway in Lincoln Park.

The company is seeking franchisees to open more locations here, said assistant store manager Joseph Payne.

The barbecue restaurants offer nine kinds of smoked meats -- brisket (sliced and chopped), pulled pork, chicken breast, turkey breast, hot links, Polish sausage, bologna and ribs -- as well as nine sides ranging from baked beans and baked potatoes to smoked corn on the cob and cole slaw. There are no fried foods, including French fries.

"We make it a point not to have any fryers or grease products," Payne said. "Everything is cooked in the smoker."

There are no ovens or deep fryers, he said -- "just smokers. We're definitely trying to get that down South-Texas-Oklahoma feel." The meats are smoked on site over pecan wood, Payne said.

Photos of Sims in action on the field decorate every wall of the restaurant, and one corner of the dining room holds a Billy Sims souvenir shop, selling everything from clothing with his number 20 to Sims bobblehead figures.

The dining room is furnished simply, with ample seating at booths and tables, including a few long tables for groups. The dark blue walls are accented with black trim and silver-colored corrugated metal.

Guests order at the counter, starting with the meat cutter and moving down to employees who serve up the side dishes. "We cut every piece of meat you want fresh, in front of you, so you see what you're getting, as opposed to it being done in the back," Payne said.

When orders are complete, guests take their food to tables and get their own drinks, napkins and plastic utensils from a self-serve counter.

Compared to metro Detroit's flashier barbecue spots, Billy Sims has a simple, family-oriented, neighborhood feel -- with prices to match. Sandwiches made with one smoked meat are $6.99 with one side. Dinners with one meat and two sides are $9.99. Half-rack rib dinners are $11.99; full-rack dinners are $22.99.


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5225 South Sheridan Road
Tulsa, Oklahoma

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