The SAW's BBQ Story
For Mike Wilson aka SAW, growing up in North Carolina meant a whole lot of good times BS’ing and backyard barbecuing with friends. In high school, he earned himself the nickname, Sorry Ass Wilson, for assorted reasons that shan’t be revealed here. Despite the moniker, Mike went on to the hospitality business by earning a degree in Restaurant and Hospitality management from the University of Alabama in 1996. Following this, continued his studies in the culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in Vail, Colorado.
Back home in Charlotte, Mike went to work as a sous chef at Dean & Deluca. This multi-channel retailer of gourmet and specialty foods was a great place for Mike to hone his craft. Over the next ten years, Mike was working as a chef in the Cooking Light Test Kitchens in Birmingham. Meanwhile, word was spreading amongst his co-workers that Mike made some pretty amazing barbeque. His email list grew to more than a few hundred people.
By 2009, when the opportunity arose to open SAW’s Barbeque, in Homewood, it was more by happy accident than intention. When Broadway BBQ announced it would be going out of business, Mike sent the owner a note, saying when he was ready to sell, Mike was ready to buy. Soon enough, the owner was ready. Mike says the place became available on a Thursday, and he had the deal by the following Tuesday. He took two weeks off his job to get it rolling. He figured his employees could run things while he kept working days, and would take over at night.
It was a small place, just 12- 15 tables on a busy street in a residential neighborhood.
Mike also recognized early in the business, that key to a great barbeque establishment is its signature sauce. SAW’s BBQ has just that, from Mike’s own creativity. It’s true to tradition in that sweet concoction on tangy and vinegar goodness … and a few secrets. It’s a little thinner than most, which makes it great for dipping, meat, taters and bread. SAW’s Sauce is famous and has been available now for the last 10 years in bottled take-home sizes. It’s also available in grocery stores throughout Alabama. “It’s a perfect name for a product developed over the course of so many good time with good friends of days gone by,” confesses Mike.
SAW’s Soul Kitchen
Now, the secret’s getting out about Wilson’s new venture, SAW’s Soul Kitchen, a barbecue and soul-food joint that he opened in 2012 in the former Quick Split Bar-B-Q location in Avondale, just down the block from the Avondale Brewing Company. SAW’S Soul Kitchen opened in Avondale, under the helm of head chef Brandon Cain.
SAW’s Juke Joint
Back home in Alabama, Mr. Hicks used his love of home cooking to open up ORE Drink and Dine Restaurant in Crestline Park. In the fall of 2011 the restaurant was acclaimed “Best New Restaurant” by Birmingham Magazine The following October, Taylor wanted to expand the restaurant experience by offering live music, so with his new upartners, known for their exceptional Southern cuisine, they re-opened in the same location as SAW’s Juke Joint.
Since 2014, Saw’s Street Kitchen — the food truck of Saw’s BBQ — has been traversing the Birmingham metro area, serving as an ambassador for the group of restaurants.
The newest Saw’s BBQ location opened in 2018 at the former home of Fat Sam’s Sub Station in Southside. Brandon is also the owner of SAW’s Street Kitchen.
American Idol winner Hicks was a co-owner of Ore.