Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Billy Sims BBQ
is growing its Wisconsin footprint with a second Milwaukee-area location, in Franklin.
Located at 7358 W. Rawson Ave., the fast-casual restaurant and drive-thru is slated to open Aug. 16 in the former Ka Martini Bar space. Dine-in and carryout service will be available, with online ordering coming soon, according to a news release Friday.
The southern-style barbecue chain is the brainchild of Heisman Trophy winner and former Detroit Lions player turned restaurateur, Billy Sims, and his business partner Jeff Jackson. Since 2004, the company has expanded to 41 franchise locations in seven 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.
Sims attended the University of Oklahoma where he was a two-time All-American football player 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.
Local franchisee Clay Covert opened the brand's first Wisconsin location in 2019
in West Bend. Covert, who also owns the new Franklin restaurant, is a marketing executive who grew up in Detroit watching Sims play football for the Lions.
"We are looking forward to bringing a second location to Wisconsin and sharing our passion for southern style barbecue,” said Covert. "Despite all the changes we have all experienced over the past year during the pandemic, local officials and residents of Franklin have shown us a lot of support and enthusiasm to forge ahead with a new location."
The restaurant will hold a grand opening celebration on Sept. 10 and 11. Sims himself will be present to meet patrons and sign autographs.
"Opening the new Franklin location, especially during unprecedented times with such community support is something I'm very excited about," said Sims. "The brand is seeing tremendous success in smaller underserved markets such as our first location in West Bend and this new location in Franklin."
Billy Sims BBQ is looking to add additional locations across Wisconsin over the next few years.