Billy Sims Barbecue opening next week in West Bend

Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL player expands business into Wisconsin market

Billy Sims Barbecue in West Bend. Photo credit: Billy Sims Barbecue

Heisman Trophy Winner and former Detroit Lions player turned restaurateur Billy Sims is bringing his southern-style barbecue chain to West Bend.

Billy Sims Barbecue will open Nov. 11 at 1442 W. Washington St. as the Tulsa, Oklahoma company’s first Wisconsin location. 

Since Sims and business partner Jeff Jackson opened their first restaurant in 2004, it has grown to more than 50 franchise locations in six states. It serves barbecue smoked in-house daily over pecan wood, offering a menu that includes brisket, St. Louis cut ribs, pulled pork, chicken, turkey and traditional southern sides. 

“It’s truly a celebration of good food and good football in a fun, family-oriented atmosphere — a place to kick back and enjoy yourself,” Sims said in a statement. 

Sims attended the University of Oklahoma where he was a two-time All-American and won the Heisman Trophy in 1978. He was the first overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft and named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year while playing professionally for the Detroit Lions until his retirement in 1985.

Sims will visit the West Bend restaurant during its grand opening celebration on Nov. 15 and 16 to meet diners and sign autographs. A ribbon cutting ceremony is set for Nov. 11 at 12:15 p.m. 

The West Bend franchise location is owned by Clay Covert, who said he became interested in the brand as soon as he entered the restaurant and smelled the pecan-wood barbecue. 

“But what truly sold me was how flavorful the meats were even before I added sauce,” he said in a statement. “As happy as I am to provide something so good to West Bend, I know I’ll also be one of my biggest customers.”

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.