Heard’s BBQ named finalist in Bama’s Best contest

Published 2:24 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Heard’s BBQ and Soul Food in Maplesville has been named a finalist in the Alabama Farmers Federation Bama’s Best Pork Ribs contest.

The restaurant is only one of four finalists out of more than 100 restaurants that were nominated. A panel of judges will visit each location to taste the ribs before naming a winner.

Roman Heard, owner of Heard’s BBQ, said he first found out he had been nominated through a post on Facebook.

“It kind of just ballooned from there,” Heard said. “I have been getting a lot of congratulations, but it is really the customers who made it happen.”

Later, ALFA Farmers contacted him to say that he was one of the restaurants with the highest number of votes. There were 900 votes received during the statewide contest.

Heard said he had known the contest existed, but did not think he would be nominated for it.

He described being a finalist as “one of the biggest things that has happened” for the restaurant since it opened a little more than a year ago.

“For me to have success in the town I grew up in is big,” Heard said. “When I saw my name and Maplesville, Alabama, it was a sense of pride. I take pride in that.”

Judges are expected to arrive in Maplesville on April 18 or 19. Heard said he is expecting between 4 to 10 people.

Other finalists include Smokin’ on the Boulevard in Florence, Whillard’s BBQ and Grill in Marion and Wiley’s Smuteye Grill in Smuteye.

Heard is not sure where he will stack up against the competition, but said he will be happy wherever he places because “there is not a loser in these four.”

Heard’s recipe was perfected through grilling for family in his backyard.

“It is what my family loved at home,” Heard said.

His pork ribs are different than many other restaurants because they are grilled, not smoked.

“That’s what I think is the key,” Heard said.

He said this grilled flavor takes people back to fond memories in their backyard as a child or with family.

Another thing that sets Heard’s BBQ pork ribs apart is usually using St. Louis cut, rather than doing spare ribs.

“It’s better quality,” Heard said.

Right now, Heard only offers pork ribs at his restaurant on Saturday. However, this will likely change in the near future due to the dish’s popularity.

Heard’s BBQ has largely grown through word of mouth.

“A lot of the customers come in and they really do say that what sets us apart is that they feel like we have a relationship with the customers,” Heard said.

Heard said he always tries to focus on showing people that he cares, whether in the restaurant or in everyday life.