Jul 23 2022
From The Pit To The Plate: Birmingham Central Library

From The Pit To The Plate: Birmingham Central Library

Presented by Bob Sykes Bar B Q at Birmingham Public Library - Central Branch

Bob Sykes Bar B Q Restaurant has been a staple in Birmingham, Alabama for decades and is celebrating its 65th anniversary with a new book called “From the Pit to the Plate” The Story of Bob Sykes Bar B Q is a story told by the Bob Sykes family of how Bob Sykes Bar B Q is much more than a beloved family business. It’s a restaurant that honors a Southern culinary tradition of food, fire, and hard work. An American business story on how the Bob Sykes family has kept the fire burning for 65 years and still smoking.

Three generations of the Sykes family have proudly served authentic southern barbecue that literally goes from the pit to the plate that brings diverse crowds of diners from the metro area, and all over the country, to Bessemer every day of the week except Sunday for award-winning barbecue; employing scores of folks in the community for some  30, 40 or even 50 years.

The late Bob and Maxine Sykes founded the restaurant and today their son Van runs the family business with the help of his nephew, Jason Jewell. Times may have changed, but nothing has changed in the way Bob Sykes Bar B Q prepares and cooks their famous barbecue over an open fire pit located in the center of the dining room for guests to watch.

Van Sykes describes what he does as straightforward: “God gives us everything we need to barbecue,” he says. “We don’t need any help with anything else. We have wood. We have a pig. We have smoke. We have ash. We have earth. A brick pit is refractory, it’s earth because the original pit was a pit in the ground. So, all those things are just God-given things. Really, we just have to stay out of the way of it and let it happen.”

“My ultimate goal,” Sykes writes in his book, “is for Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q to be remembered as one of those ‘great’ businesses. I can’t think of any better way to honor my parents than for the business they worked so hard to establish will remain an important part of the business landscape of Bessemer. If it is, then I feel that I will have contributed in some way to their legacy.”

Upcoming Book Signing Free Events with Van Sykes who will give a brief talk about the 65-year history and books will be available for purchase:

July 16th 9am:  Pepper Place Market @ 212 29th Street South
August 6th 1-3pm: Hoover Library 

Dates & Times

2022/07/23 - 2022/07/23

Location Info

Birmingham Public Library - Central Branch

2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203