Entrepreneur and man of God Rev. John A. “Big John” Stephens came to Tampa from Eufaula, Alabama and opened Big John’s Alabama BBQ in East Tampa in 1968. He ran the no-frills business for 25 years – and preached in the church across the street – until his death in 1994.
Stephens’ obituary ran on the front page of The Tampa Tribune and his son, Fred Stephens, keeps tradition going with the restaurant’s signature secret sauce and open pit barbecue grill. Fans come from hours away for the generous portions of finger-licking meat that falls off the bone, topped off with a guava pastry.
– Eve Lederman, The 100 Companies