Left Pulled Pork Sandwich, Right Alex and Shay Brown. Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau
Sometimes the best things come in clamshell Styrofoam containers with a side of homemade sauce and extra napkins. The folks at Coach Brown’s BBQ, a family-owned joint on Dawes Road, know it, and so do their customers.
Coach Brown’s BBQ has had quite the journey from food truck in 2020 to a brick-and-mortar business. It’s paying off. Opening day in March saw lines from the old gas station-turned-kitchen trailing down the street and a sold-out menu before closing hours. They sometimes still sell out these days. Their food is just that good. The original Coach Brown’s BBQ food truck out back now houses a monster smoker where chicken, ribs, wings, pulled pork and brisket cook low and slow. “Dad experimented with everything on the grill. My mom was the more traditional, Southern cook,” says owner and pitmaster Alex C. Brown. “I just fell between and made it work.”
Family is the core foundation of the business. The restaurant is named after Alex, a former Vigor High School player and coach. His late dad, Cornelius “Tank” Brown, was the original Coach Brown. A football coach at Vigor and Blount high schools, he led the latter to the 1999 Class 5A state football championship. “This restaurant pays homage to my father, who not only introduced me to the game of football but also my love of being on the grill and smoker,” says Alex. Alex’s wife Shay is in charge of the sides, customer service and social media, while Alex’s mom whips up the bestselling desserts.
Texas-style barbecue is a key influence on the menu, an uncommon element amongst most lower Alabama barbecue joints. “One of my main goals was to emphasize beef brisket,” says Alex. Depending on its weight, brisket cooks anywhere from eight to 10 hours. Every hour is worth it for a plate. Sauces are made from scratch, though the meat shines on its own. All the classic sides are on the menu: macaroni and cheese, collard greens, cornbread, baked beans — the list goes on. You can probably guess what gave Coach Brown’s BBQ the nickname “The Home of the Flavored Ribs.” Available in plain, barbecue and lemon pepper, the ribs are a fan-favorite, and more flavors are in the works, as are extended hours. It all happens one step at a time. “We’re only going to get bigger as we go along,” says Alex.
Left Smoked Half Chicken Plate. Right Slow-Cooked Brisket
On the Menu
Fall-off-the-bone ribs are available in three flavors: tangy barbecue, the bestselling lemon pepper and good old fashioned plain. Just select your choice of side and dig in!
You can’t get this brisket sandwich just anywhere in south Alabama. Slow-cooked brisket, topped with barbecue sauce or left plain, is served on a bun with a side of chips.
Smokey Chicken Salad
Originally developed as a way to use leftover smoked chicken, this chicken salad became an instant success. Topped with paprika, it is sweet-smoky goodness. Pro tip: grab a container for entertaining.
Coach Brown’s BBQ • 3078 Dawes Road • 487-1730 • Wed – Sat 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.