Heards BBQ breaking into the Clanton scene

Published 10:02 am Monday, December 4, 2023

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Another Chilton County restaurant staple is coming to Clanton, this time in the form of Heards BBQ & Soul Food in Maplesville. Heards BBQ will be moving into the building that the former Friends Steakhouse was at 1679 Seventh St. S, Clanton. The tentative plan is to have the Clanton location open and serving residents by the first weekend in January.

“This is a great thing for the city,” Clanton Mayor Jeff Mims said. “I tried to get Heards (a few months ago), and Roman has never had a sit-down restaurant. This will be his first sit-down.”

Roman and Shakira Heard have had Heards BBQ in Maplesville for nearly seven years, opening in January 2017. Since then, Heards has become a regional name in the food world in the southeast.

“When we opened in 2017, in those first two years, we were winning a bunch of statewide awards and were top four in four different categories, and that got the word out,” Roman Heard said. “Not only just in (Chilton) County, but we had people coming in from two- to-three-hour drives, and it blew my mind. It was a humbling thing to realize that your food reached that far.”

Mims and Heard were in contact for a while attempting to find a spot in Clanton that fit everything they were looking for. However, Heard felt like the first few options that presented themselves were not quite what he had envisioned.

Bucky and Brenda Berrey, who purchased the shopping center that the former Friends Steakhouse was in, contacted Heard about the location and asked if he would meet with them to see if something could be worked out.

“In the back of my mind I was like ‘Here we go again,” and I do not think I am going to be able to do (a) Clanton (location) right now,” Heard said. “Once we sat down and talked, we were on the same page on just about everything we talked about. They made it real easy and comfortable to step out and get it done. After speaking with the Mayor, it just felt like the right time and felt like it was a great opportunity to go into a place that was already established as a restaurant for years. It was pretty much everything we held out for, and it just kind of fell in our laps.”

Heard and Berrey presented the idea to Mims, who was onboard with the addition to Clanton. He is giving Heards some tax incentives to assist them through the first few years of the location as well.

“We are trying to help them out for their first few years in business,” Mims said. “Once they get established the money will be coming right back off the get-go, and we get half right away. Then, after a few years we get it all.”

Heard said the prime location directly off of Alabama Highway 31 was a huge draw to the location for him. However, he was patient with the expansion to the second location because the original Maplesville location allowed him to be selective as to where his second location would be. He added that he had interest from other cities, but he did not want to just jump at one idea and chase money, but rather “chase God ideas, instead of good ideas.”

“This will be our first sit-down place, so it will be a learning experience for us,” Heard said.

At the new Clanton location, Heard said he will not be changing the look of the restaurant too much. He is keeping the bar intact, but there will not be any alcohol sold at the restaurant. Instead, Heard plans to sell his homemade lemonade at the bar along with fountain drinks to give it a soda bar feel.

The stage that was inside the location is being taken out, but the area is projected to seat around 70 people. He plans to have a set menu at the Clanton location each day as well, as opposed to the rotating menu that is currently at the Maplesville location, which will cut down on having to restock different products each day. There will also be daily specials with items that are not on the set menu as well.