Tampa, Florida – The secret to keeping customers coming back for more than 42 years is simple to the Stephen’s family, “consistency.”
The family-owned business located on the corner of North 40th Street is known around the city for having a family-like atmosphere and most importantly, good barbeque ribs.
“Nobody cook ribs like Big John’s Alabama,” said customer Steve Patterson, “I’ve been coming here since 1975 and I’ve eat ribs all over the country, including Alabama and nobody’s ribs taste as good as Big John’s.”
The ingredients of the family’s sweet, mild and spicy sauces are kept secret. The rest is open to the public.
“We use the oldest form of cooking, when they discovered fire and discovered that if you put some meat over it, it would make it taste better,” said Fredrick Stephen.
Oak and Hickory wood is used in an old-style pit grill. It adds a special flavor to our meat and it complements our sauces, said the Stephens.
The family managed the business since founder Rev. John A. “Big John” Stephens died in 1994 and in 2010 opened a brand new store.
“People said our business would fail after my grandfather died but as you see today, we are larger and stronger than when my grandfather was alive,” said Corey Miller.
Miller is in the process of perfecting consistency, the secret to their success.
“My grandfather and uncle instructs me not to change anything. Instead, I should improve upon it. My biggest obstacle right now is becoming consistent cooking the same flavored ribs and chicken over again. That way I can keep the customers around that has been coming here before I was born,” said Miller.
A reason for Big John’s success is that he caters to a wide-range of customers and treats them like family.
“One time I placed an order for a half a slab of ribs but when I got home and checked, I realized I had gotten the wrong order. The Stephens’ not only replaced my order free of charger but, allowed me to pick a free complementary item from the menu to alleviate my troubles,” said Neil Schauer.
We cater to more than just the average citizen, said Corey Miller, many of the Buccaneers football players, old and new, dine here regularly. Many celebrities such as, Steve Harvey, dine at Big John’s when they are in the neighborhood.
Since Big John’s reopening in 2010, the store has flourished.
“The fact that we are successful black own business is very good for the rest community see and follow, said Miller, “Hard work and great tasting ribs has kept us around for decades and we are praying that it does for many more.”