Bob Sykes Bar B Q was on The Cooking Channel—here’s what you missed

Bob Sykes BBQ on The Cooking Channel
Pit master Van Sykes (l) with Chef Roger Mooking from “Man Fire Food.” Photo via Bob Sykes BBQ on Twitter

Did you manage to see Bessemer’s Bob Sykes Bar B Q on The Cooking Channel’s “Man Fire Food” last Wednesday, May 20? If not, here’s what you missed + why they’ve been a local favorite since 1957.

1. They showed how they make their famous pork

According to CBS42, host Roger Moonking and a crew spent two days shooting the Bob Sykes segment of “Southern Sizzle and Smoke” at the restaurant.

Van Sykes is the current pitmaster, tending to the coals in the open brick pit his father Bob Sykes built, for most of his life. According to Penn Live, wiewers got to watch them “season 250 pounds of picnic pork, load it into a 15-foot pit heated with hickory wood and then slice it and top it with tangy vinegar-based barbecue sauce and pickles on a toasted bun.”

Here’s what Bob Sykes Bar B Q has say about their method on their website:

“Bob Sykes Bar B Q has begun every day at 3AM cooking the fresh pork shoulders over a natural fire of hickory coals steeped in tradition and bound by history of excellence. Three generations of the Sykes family has proudly served authentic Southern barbecue that literally goes from the pit to the plate.”

Looks like you can still catch the show in June on

  • Wednesday, June 17, 8:30PM
  • Thursday, Jun 18, 12:30AM
  • June 27, 11PM

2. Bob Sykes has been a family affair since 1957

Owner Van Skyes’ parents Bob and Maxine opened an ice cream and hamburger stand in Birmingham’s Central Park area back in 1957. It wasn’t long after that that Bob built the fire pit that reminded him of the Western Tennessee barbecue of his childhood.

Now Van Skyes is busy passing on the tradition to Bob and Maxine’s grandson Jason Jewell. You’ll get to find out more about this family’s three-generation love of barbecue and what makes Bob Sykes’ barbecue so unforgettable.

3. They’re one of the founding members of the Southern Foodways Alliance

Because who doesn’t want to record all the foodie fabulousness of the American South for posterity?

4. They’ve won tons of awards

Accolades and awards include the following:

  • #1 BBQ sauce
  • BBQ pork sandwich + “100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die”
  • Alabama Barbecue Hall of Fame

They’ve got countless fans of their lemon ice box pie, too.

5. Bob Sykes is going strong during the pandemic—they’ve even increased their staff

People love their barbecue, and Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q loves their community. Here are some of the things they’ve added to help them survive and even thrive during the pandemic:

  • curbside pickup
  • online ordering
  • eight phone lines for call-in orders
  • catering

Their fans have come out to support them in droves, and they are grateful.


Location: 1724 9th Avenue North, Bessemer, AL 35020
Hours: Monday-Thursday 10:30AM-9PM, Friday-Saturday 10:30AM-10PM
Contact: Call 205.426.1400 | Email | Facebook | Instagram
Order online | Catering

Now tell us, Birmingham, what’s your favorite thing at Bob Sykes Bar B Q? Tag us on Facebook and Instagram @bhamnow or on Twitter @now_bham.

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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