Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Restaurant Impossible - Big Jim's Bama Q Update

Photo - Food Network
Tonight on Restaurant Impossible, Robert Irvine and his crew are in Hammondville, Alabama to makeover Big Jim's Bama Q.  Daniel, who is the owner of the restaurant, also owns a successful sawmill, but does not know much about the restaurant business.  Robert has to teach him what it takes for his restaurant to succeed and to try to turn his barbeque restaurant into a destination.  Daniel has only been operating the business for 9 months before the Restaurant Impossible makeover.  As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about Big Jim's Bama Q to get an idea of how the restaurant is doing since Robert Irvine visited, and here is what I found (note - all reviews are post Restaurant Impossible):

Positive Reviews:
  • "This place is ridiculously delicious...Definitely coming back."
  • "I like this place.  Good family bbq place in the middle of nowhere. Staff was awesome. I gave it a 3 because this was a nice place with nice people with nice food. Nothing crazy good but worth the stop."
  • "We stopped here after a local referral while at the five state yard sale. We apparently hit the restaurant at the perfect time, as a huge rush had just left. BBQ was really good and the Hickory Fries were scrumptious"
  • "I recently volunteered to help during the Restaurant Impossible episode here. Several weeks later, I thought I'd stop in and see how the remodel turned out and try the food....It was DELICIOUS!!!..We will definitely go back again. It was VERY good!"

Negative Reviews:
  • "Restaurant Impossible changed the decor but unfortunately someone forgot to tell the staff to actually heat the food....Out of a party of four, one person received warm food and that was for an "off menu" item (a loaded baked potato). When the chicken was served it had a nice dark color. To our horror it was simply brushed on dark sauce. The chicken itself was raw with blood and pink fluid oozing from the joints. Two other members of our party ordered different sampler platters. Neither platter was served warm. To top it all off I was dumb enough to pay nearly $50 for that nightmare. Needless to say we will never attempt to eat here again."
  • "I paid $7 for a huge dry bun and very little meat the day after the Restaurant Impossible reopening. The menu said it came with collard slaw and fries. I had to ask where was my slaw. They argued that it didn't come with the meal until they actually looked at the menu themselves. Then they brought me my slaw."
*Reviews from Urbanspoon, Yelp, Tripadvisor

Other News and Links:
  • Here is the Big Jim's website, which looks like it hasn't been updated in years.  Their Facebook page hasn't been updated by the new owners and a new one hasn't been created.
  • Big Jim sold his restaurant to the current owners in June 2013, and Restaurant Impossible came in March 2014, just 9 months after the purchase.  The message said he sold it to Jacqueline Millican, so I am not sure why she wasn't in the episode or if her name was just wrong.
  • Big Jim's is "the only restaurant in the northern DeKalb County town of about 450 people." (Link)
  • A blog post from March said a nearby 130 year-old hotel recently burnt to the ground, which could impact Big Jim's business.
  • Regarding the writing on the wall at the restaurant, a blog post from last year stated: "The story of the graffiti came from Big Jim, himself. He said that when he opened the doors of his establishment, his daughter had painted the walls a pristine white and wanted them to stay that way. A group of 4 Japanese travelers came in one day and wanted to try "one of everything!" Big Jim tried to explain that it would be a lot of food to try one of everything. But they were insistent. So, Big Jim's crew brought out one of everything. They ate it all! On the wall behind them, Big Jim wrote, "I ate one of everything at Big Jim's Bama Q", and had each of them sign their names below it. It didn't take long for other signatures to show up and eventually cover the walls"


There weren't too many reviews for Big Jim's Bama Q, but I guess that can be expected for a town with a population of about 450.  The reviews that were there were mixed and some liked the food, while others had complaints about it.  It was hard to get information about the restaurant due to them not having an up to date website or Facebook Page.

This is the second week in a row that Robert Irvine has gone to a BBQ restaurant that has needed a makeover less than 1 year into the ownership.  For this restaurant to survive, they will need to get repeat customers from the small town they are in and also turn into a destination for people from out of town.

UPDATE - Big Jim's Bama Q closed some time in early 2016.

*Visit Our Restaurant Impossible Update Page to see all Restaurant Impossible updates, and which restaurants are open, closed, or have been sold. Also Like Us on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter


  1. I'd wondered why they went with such a new restaurant last week. Two weeks in a row though? I really hope this isn't going to be a common occurrence with this show.

  2. This one was just so hopeless there was no point in even watching.

  3. One thing I noticed right at the start, is the fact that they are only open 4 days a week, and even then only open till 7:30?

  4. May you R.I.P. Eileen. Eileen was such a lovely lady who had so much heartache before she got sick herself. I watched her episode and was so full of hope for her continued success. It is so very sad to hear of her passing. My sincere condolences to her friends and family and to her employees.

  5. Bad enough to buy a restaurant with no experience, but a bbq joint and no knowledge of how to properly bbq? May be one of the most clueless yet and for that show, it's saying something

  6. What if we put all those wasted billions of dollars spent on war and use it to battle cancer?

  7. So happy that she saw the restaurant makeover before she passed. So sad for the family. My prayers are with you.

  8. She did not deserve what she had to endure; she epitomized strength. May she rest in peace.

  9. i just watched the episode and enjoyed watching such a lovely and caring person who loved everyone and to find out that she passed away broke my heart...MAY her spirit live on and may the restaurant continue to be successful

  10. I agree with a post about using money from war to fight cancer. I lost my grandma to cancer and i know how hard it is to watch over someone ill.

  11. Oh No! what a shame; such a nice lady. I'm glad Robert was able to bring some joy into her life before she went to join the lord. thank you