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.
beginning of Saw's
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.
Word spread fast and Mike needed to commit full-time to this popular place. And like any reputable “hole-in-the wall” Mike focused on the food, not the décor. The offering were standard Carolina style pulled pork sandwiches, barbeque chicken, falloff the bone ribs, with a few new items to take the experience up a notch. There is a white barbeque sauce for chicken, a little tribute to a favorite from North Carolina. He wanted to feed people with quality and affordability, yet still stick to what he knows best: authentic Southern cuisine. He even kept on his menu, the stuffed taters that were on the previous owner’s menu, for a little familiarity. And everyday, the line up snakes down the street!
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.