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Al's Braised Short Ribs with Gravy February 22 2018

Enjoy the taste of Southern food with Al's Braised Short Ribs with Gravy. Serve this recipe using nothing but the best ingredient's at Bubba's Q for your next cookout or family gathering!
  • 8 boneless beef short ribs
  • salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground mustard
  • freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 1 750-mL bottle dry red wine
  • 6 cups beef stock


Coaching points

Preheat oven to 375. Sprinkle ribs with salt, pepper, and dry mustard.


Rub seasonings into the meat. Heat oil in large skillet and brown ribs on all sides.


Transfer ribs to a baking pan. Keep grease in skillet and sauté vegetables for about 3 minutes.Transfer to baking pan, pour the wine in the skillet, deglazing the skillet, scraping off any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Reduce the wine until thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes.


Pour the wine over the short ribs and vegetables and add enough beef stock to cover the ribs. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Cook until the meat is fork tender (about 2½ hours).


Serves 8

Bubba Talks Big Game Grub February 02 2018

In part two of our exclusive interview with Al ‘Bubba’ Baker, Al dishes all on his favorite Big Game must-have munchies. We also get his predictions for the Big Game and how he thinks the teams will perform overall. Keep reading to find out more below!


1. What is your favorite tailgating food?


Al: I’m not saying this because it’s our family’s invention, but Bubba’s Q Boneless Baby Back Ribs and here’s why-- you can make appetizers, sliders, sandwiches, toppers (on burgers, in burritos, nachos, pizzas, in Mac n Cheese, tater tots, salads, etc.) and Entrees. They are fully-cooked, just ‘heat n’ eat’ and you’ll actually get to see the game instead of cooking all day.


2. What is your favorite tailgating recipe?


Al: Boneless Baby Back Rib Nachos! Add melted queso cheese, red onions, jalapeños atop fried tater tots, garnished with scallions.


3. Have you always been passionate about food, when while you were playing in the NFL?


Al: I grew up in a barbecue family-- Jenkins Quality Bar-B-Q, in Jacksonvile, Florida is where my uncle Melton Jenkins Jr, (Daddy Jr.) taught me the art of barbecuing. So, yes long before I made it to the NFL I had a passion for cooking and eating. I’m so grateful to the NFL for allowing me to travel this great country, where I got to sample cuisines from many different places. If you close your eyes while tasting our Bubba’s-Q Barbecue you’ll catch some hints of Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, Minnesota, St. Louis even London, England. That’s how I coined the phrase: “Football was my job, but Barbecue is my Passion!”


4. With the Big Game happening this Sunday, which team are you hoping becomes the next Super Bowl Champions?


Al: There is a certain irony to this year’s Big Game, in a year where questions arose about patriotism, we see the Eagles (as in Bald Eagle) become an emblem of the nation. The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird represents the strength and freedom of America. The Patriots, as in the colonist of the Thirteen Colonies who rebelled against British control during the American Revolution, declared the United States of America an independent nation in 1776. Both of these teams represent something greater than football.


This game will be decided on the front lines - can the Patriots block the Eagles? Football games are mainly decided on three things… the strength, agility and intelligence of both teams. The way to win championships is a strong defensive line and the teams ability to run the ball to control the time of possession (in other words, their ability to run up the middle of the field). These two teams are so close in that area, with the Eagles ranked 4th in rushing yards in the playoffs and Patriots ranked 6th, it’s going to come down to which team can win the battle of the line of scrimmage. Defensively, the Eagles are ranked 4th and the Patriots ranked 5th so that is going to boil down to which team can make the best adjustments during halftime. Turnovers will also decide this area of the game, who will have the least?


5. What do you think about the Nick Foles vs. Tom Brady match up?


Al: The quarterbacks have been dubbed as David vs. Goliath. Tom Brady, four-time MVP and the reigning champion, as Goliath and Nick Foles, who essentially was backup to Carson Wentz, as David. If you know the story, young David wins the battle even though the odds were against him. My prediction is that the Eagles will win by 10 points and basically be too dominant defensively for the Patriots. The real winner will be America as they watch a great game and hopefully are enjoying some Bubba’s-Q Boneless Baby Back Ribs!!


Thanks for reading our part-two interview with Al ‘Bubba’ Baker, former NFL player and founder of Bubba’s Q! We sure do agree with his predictions for the Big Game on Sunday… Go Birds!!

Bubba Talks Touchdowns & Throwbacks January 19 2018




We recently sat down with Al Bubba Baker, former NLF Pro and founder of Bubba’s Q, famous for their signature boneless baby back ribs.  The 3x Pro Bowl champion shared his team and player favorites, and what it’s like playing in the NFL.  Get the inside scoop from our exclusive sit-down interview below!


  1. Which teams do you hope make it to the Super Bowl?

Al: Coming from Cleveland this may sound crazy, but I want to see an all-Pennsylvania team Super Bowl - Steelers vs Eagles. Here’s a perfect example of rooting for the enemy!  The Steelers are sworn enemies to Cleveland fans, but since we’re trying to discover ourselves in Cleveland, I’d much rather see the Steelers in the Big Game instead of New England this year.


  1. Who is your favorite athlete in the NFL?

Al: Tom Brady! He’s the single common denominator in the New England, Patriots dominance. He’s like a fine bottle of wine… the older he gets, the better he gets. What an amazing athlete! Even at the ripe age of 40, if I were to have my own NFL team, he would be my QB. That’s a lot coming from an ex-defensive lineman that chased quarterbacks… like dogs’ chase cats, relentlessly!


  1. Who are you rooting for?

Al: I think there is something going on down in Nar Lin’s (New Orleans), I’d like to see Drew Brees go out on top in his 17th season… WOW!


  1. What is the most exciting part of the football season?

Al: I personally think the weeks before the playoffs, for example the Wild Card games.  Teams trying to make it to the playoffs are the games that draw both interested parties, and the teams pulling for teams that they wouldn’t normally root for in hopes they’ll make it into the playoffs.


  1. What are some of your fondest memories of playing pro football?

Al: Lately I realized how special it was to have 23 quarterback sacks, be Rookie-of-the-Year, Defensive Lineman of the Year, named to the Pro Bowl and an All Pro at the age of 20. I spent the first 20 years of my life dreaming of wanting to be FAMOUS, age 21-41 trying to figure out what in the heck went wrong, and why did FAME hurt? From age 42 until present, I watched other FAMOUS people crash and burn! Present and future I’ve learned to live in the moment and that it’s OK to be proud of my past successes. I keep looking for new mountains to climb and surround myself with people I LOVE that LOVE ME BACK!


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Part 2 of Al Bubba Baker’s interview!


Bubba’s Southern Slaw Salad May 09 2017



This is the best slaw we’ve ever eaten! It’s crunchy, flavorful, creamy and refreshing. Serve it at your next BBQ or family gathering alongside Bubba’s Boneless Ribs or stacked atop Bubba’s Black Angus Beef Brisket Craft Burger.  Enjoy!


1 head green cabbage, finely shredded

2 large carrots, finely shredded

¾ cup best-quality mayonnaise

2 Tbsps sugar, or to taste

2 Tbsps white vinegar

2 tsps celery salt


freshly ground pepper


Coaching Points

Combine the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Whisk all other ingredients in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture. Mix well to combine. Add more salt, pepper, or sugar, if desired.


Serves 8


Bubba’s Q Boneless Rib Salad April 20 2017



Lighten up your spring menu with this deliciously fresh Bubba’s rib salad! As summer is coming closer, many of us are looking to lighten up our meals and get ready for the warm weather. Take advantage of the seasons freshest items layered in this loaded green salad.


For Bar-B-Q lovers like us, this rib salad is the perfect mix of light and hearty. Since vegetables are a super low calorie food, you can eat as many as you want without adding on the fat, carbs, and unnecessary sugars. Packed with lean protein from our delicious Boneless Ribs and dense nutrients from the veggies, this salad is bound to keep you full all day long.


Bubba’s Q Boneless Rib Salad

Yields: 2 servings

  • 1 rack of Bubba’s Boneless Ribs
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce
  • 1 cucumber (sliced)
  • ¼ cup sliced carrots
  • 1 large tomato (sliced)
  • lemon and lime wedges (or dressing of your choice)


  1. Cook Bubba’s Boneless Ribs according to the package directions.
  2. Assemble your salad. Chop & clean your lettuce and place it in to a big bowl.
  3. Next, chop up your cucumber, carrots, and tomato. Place them into your salad and mix it up.
  4. Lastly, chop up your Bubba’s Boneless ribs and place them on top of your salad.
  5. Squeeze lemon & lime wedges over top in place of dressing.

Bubba’s Q Easter Sliders April 03 2017

Looking for the perfect appetizer for your Easter brunch? These Bubba’s Boneless Sliders are perfect! Holidays can be tough when it comes to preparing meals that the whole family will love. Many times, we find that it’s best to go with classics that you know will win.  We’ve got the perfect suggestion: our Bubba’s Boneless Sliders. These sliders have our world famous Boneless Ribs sandwiched between brioche buns with coleslaw on top. Can you say YUM? 

Bubba’s Boneless Sliders

  • A rack of Bubba’s Boneless Ribs
  • Brioche buns
  • Coleslaw
  • Additions: lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, etc.
  1.  Cook your Bubba’s Boneless Ribs according to the package directions (make sure to add our world-famous Bubba’s Bar-B-Q sauce to the ribs!)
  2. Cut your ribs in to small squares and assemble them onto the brioche buns.
  3. Add more Bubba’s Bar-B-Q sauce if desired to the top of the ribs.
  4. Top that with coleslaw, close your bun, then face plant!

We hope that these sliders are the perfect addition to your Easter brunch and that you enjoy the day with your family!


Essential Bar-B-Q Grilling Tips March 24 2017


With the winter coming to a close and spring heating up, Bar-B-Q season is upon us! While Bar-B-Qing is for all, there is definitely some skill associated with whipping up a tasty meal on the grill. Check out these tips below to help guide you through the BBQ basics and make your cookout the best that it can be!



1. Get your grill HOT!

Preheating the grill is super important. About 15-20 minutes before you start cooking, make sure to turn on your grill. That way, your grill will reach the optimal cooking temperate before any food hits it. This will allow for less cooking time and a more even cooking experience.


2. Know your grill

Whether you have a charcoal or gas grill, it’s important to know what you’re working with. While gas grills take longer to set up initially, charcoal grills take longer to light each time you’re using them.


3. Oil it up

Even on the cleanest grill, oil is still necessary for cooking. Make sure to oil up your heated grill so that your food won’t stick! Grab a paper towel or napkin soaked in oil and rub it on your grill. If not hot, this can be done by hand, but if done heated, use tongs so that you don’t burn yourself.


4. Keep it safe

While many put safety on the back burner, it needs to be a top priority when grilling. For example, a few things to keep in mind are avoiding cross contamination between raw and cooked foods, refrigerating raw foods, and never spraying cooking oil on a hot grill. All of these things could result in dangerous accidents that are easily avoidable.


5. Marinating your meat

If you want to infuse your food with flavor, marinating it is a must! Marinating your meat for a few hours ahead of cooking really helps it to seal in the juices and keep your products tasting great.


6. Rest your meat

While it’s so tempting to eat right away, letting your meat rest for about 5-10 minutes after it is done cooking. This helps the juices to evenly distribute and keeps your meat tender and juicy.


7. Cook with high quality products

When grilling, it’s important to get high quality cuts of meat so that you can guarantee a delicious experience. Our Bubba’s Q Ribs and burgers are perfect for cooking on the grill if we do say so ourselves!


We hope that you enjoyed the Bar-B-Q tips above and that they come in handy at your next cook out!


5 Best Alcohol & Bar-B-Q Pairings March 08 2017



Some say that the best pairings bring out the best in one another. In this case, that holds true. Bar-B-Q food is a classic and is best when kept simple. These alcohol pairings are the same way. Below, we’ve laid out our favorite drinks that intertwine perfectly with your southern inspired BBQ. Try out these simple boozy Bar-B-Q pairings to take your average cook-out to the next level.



  • While certain beers may work better with certain sauces, beer is a great pairing for any BBQ meal. Cold, refreshing, and hoppy; beer will be your go-to when having a Bar-B-Q. 


Red wine

  • Red wine has been known to pair perfectly with meat. The smoky and savory texture of the meat tastes amazing with the rich character associated with red wine grapes.



  • Bourbon is from the south, and so is Bar-B-Q! These two southern delicacies go hand in hand. Bourbon’s rich taste is something that a BBQ can’t live without.



  • Rosé is sweet, light, and incredibly delicious. Though at first you wouldn’t think to pair it with Bar-B-Q, we can promise it tastes amazing. It’s light texture and taste are a lovely compliment to meaty, hearty flavors.



  • Grab a classic glass of Jack Daniels and pair it with your favorite rack of ribs (Bubbas Boneless Bar-B-Q ribs, anyone?). Tennessee whiskey is naturally smooth with hints of caramel and sweetness. It tastes amazing when paired with BBQ food, or even in your favorite BBQ sauce.



Bubba’s BBQ Chili February 27 2017

Savory, spicy, smoky, and incredibly delicious, this chili is all of the above. Spice up your traditional chili recipe with this BBQ Chili! Chili is a traditional comfort food and is something that is loved by all. Though warm recipes may seem reserved for the winter months, this is a dish that’s great all year around. It’s the best side for Bubba’s Q Boneless Ribs and works as a perfect piece in a summer BBQ. The best news? This recipe doesn’t take long to come together and will be a hit with the entire family. Give it a try & let us know how you like it. Also, please let us know if you have a family chili recipe that we should try. Enjoy!


Bubba’s BBQ Chili 

  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. chili powder feel free to add more if you like things on the spicier side
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 4 (16 oz.) cans chili beans
  • ¾ picante sauce
  • ¾ cup of Bubba’s Q barbecue sauce


  1. Sauté onion in a large pot in 2 Tbsp. of oil.  
  2. Add ground beef and minced garlic. Add in the chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Mix and cook covered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is totally cooked.
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and beans.
  5. Add any additional chili powder and/or red pepper flakes to taste.
  6. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or more.
  7. Let simmer for up to 2 hours or as long as you can wait! The longer it sits, the yummier it gets. It’s great the next day and the day after, too!
  8. Serve with your choice of toppings on top. We like sour cream, shredded cheese, and some Bubbas Boneless Ribs.

Crock Pot Baked Beans February 02 2017

Baked beans are a hearty classic that go great with Bubba’s Boneless Ribs. They are sweet, delicious, and packed with protein. They also serve as a great side for any meal and are perfect for a southern BBQ!



Crock Pot Baked Beans 

Serves; about 10 side portions



  • 1 pound dry beans such as Borlotti beans or Great Northern beans
  • 8 cups cold water to soak beans
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 10 ounces salt pork (can sub bacon), cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, (1 1/2 cups) small chopped



  1. Place beans in a large pot and cover with water; soak overnight. The next day, bring the beans and soaking water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, remove it from heat and cover with a lid to let sit for 30 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid for later.
  1. Mix the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, and ground cloves with 2 cups of hot water and 1 cup of reserved cooking liquid.
  1. Line the bottom of a slow-cooker (or a Dutch oven if you are cooking in the oven) with half of the salt pork Layer over half of the drained beans. Add the entire chopped medium onion over top of the beans.
  1. Top with another layer of beans and the remaining salt pork. Pour the molasses water mixture over the beans to just cover the beans. 
  1. Cover and cook in a slow-cooker on the low setting for 8 hours (or in a 250°F oven), until the beans are tender. Check the water level a few hours in, and if the beans need more water, add some. Add additional salt to taste if needed.

Bubba's Q Boneless Rib & Beer Pairings January 23 2017


Today, we are bringing you a classic. Everyone knows that ribs, beer, and football go hand in hand. There’s just something about watching the big game, eating delicious food, and sipping on a hoppy beer. While both of these things are amazing alone, together they are the ultimate combination. Below, we have outlined some of our favorite rib + beer pairings. Each beer is unique and compliments the ribs in a different but beautiful way. Elevate your tailgate with these delicious combinations that are sure to impress your guests.


Perfect for football, tailgating, and your Big Game celebration, these combinations will bring your BBQ experience to the next level.


Evil Genius Beer Company – O’Doyle Rules IPA

Approachable and light, this golden ale is sure to enlighten your taste buds. This beer is malty, creamy, and hoppy.



Bruin Belgian Dark Ale Beer – Leffe Brune 

Leffe Brown is an authentic abbey beer that is both sweet, darkly roasted, and malty.



Dogfish Head Indian Brown

This IPA is a hybrid between a Scotch Ale, an India Pale Ale, and an American Brown Ale. This Ale is well-hopped and malty at the same time.



Goose Island Honkers Ale

Honkers ale is packed with sunset coloring, fruity hop aromas, and a biscuity malt flavor that will have you coming back for more.



Cape May Honey Porter

This beer is an English porter made with cape may local honey. Brewed with hallertau hops, this beer has characteristics that make it very unique.



We hoped that you enjoyed these boneless rib + beer pairings. Try them out and let us know your favorites!


Bubba’s Bar-B-Q Tips Jan January 13 2017

  • 9: Don't Cheat on the Meat

    Get a quality piece of meat, whether it’s
    baby backs, spare ribs, whatever.

  • 9
  • 8
  • 8: Pre-Season

    It’s too late to season the meat after it’s
    cooked. You’ve seared it and closed the
    pores. Put your dry rub and spices on
    before you start.

  • 7: Choose the right method

    You have two choices: grilling or
    barbecuing. Grilling is done at high
    temperature, 400 degrees Fahrenheit
    to cook the meat quickly and sear the
    juices in. Bar- b-q is done at a lower
    temperature. Low and slow is my motto.

  • 7
  • 6
  • 6: Choose the right chips

    If you have wood chips, be careful what
    kind you use. Hickory and mesquite
    have a very strong flavor that not
    everyone likes.

  • 5: Don't Broil Ribs

    If your mama ever made soup, you
    might remember how the stock looked,
    all the stuff floating in the water after
    she boiled the meat. With ribs, that’s
    flavor you’re boiling out.

  • 5
  • 4
  • 4: Sauce is a condiment

    Don’t make the meat swim in
    sauce. Only baste it with sauce the last
    5 minutes.

  • 3: Be Passionate

    Don’t just try to make a good meal. I tell
    my staff, the enemy of great is good. I’m
    not satisfied with good bar-b-q.

  • 3
  • 2
  • 2: Use the fat

    Take the fat you cut off pulled- pork
    sandwiches and add it to the grill before
    cooking ribs. The smoking fat gives the
    ribs even more flavor.

  • 1: Pace yourself

    You can’t eat bar-b-q every day. If you
    did, we hope it would be ours!

  • 1

Bubba's Gives Back This Holiday December 20 2016

"We prepare many dishes for the Holidays. My dad and brother make the meats, smoked turkey and ham, my mom makes an awesome macaroni and cheese, my grandma makes southern mixed greens (usually kale and collards) I like to make rosemary garlic redskin potatoes.

We do a lot of fundraising for the less fortunate. This Thanksgiving we had a dinner for 50 Homeless men at Bubba's-Q and we served them ham, turkey, baked beans, mac n' cheese, and coleslaw. We had former Cleveland brown Josh Cribs speak to the homeless men to encourage them.

I am on the board of a local non-profit here in Cleveland called Social enterprise they have a homeless shelter here in Cleveland called 2100 Lakeside men's shelter. We are currently collecting monetary donations, unused towels and wash rags for the guys at the shelter here's a link to their site with more information. Here's a link if anyone wants to donate. We are also collecting new toys, hats, gloves, coats, and non-perishable food items for Ch19 action News' "Share Your Holidays" event. If there's ever an opportunity for us to help the less fortunate in our community we love to get involved.

Happy Holidays!"

Meat-a-Palooza Giveaway November 03 2016

Meat lovers! We've partnered with our friends Three Jerks Jerky and Rastelli Market Fresh for a giveaway like no other. Enter today to win a $1,000 Meaty Mega Medley of all your favorite meats:

Braised Short Ribs Recipe October 09 2016


Preheat oven to 375. Sprinkle ribs with salt, pepper, and dry mustard. Rub seasonings into the meat. Heat oil in large skillet and brown ribs on all sides. Transfer ribs to a baking pan. Keep grease in skillet and sauté vegetables for about 3 minutes.

Transfer to baking pan, pour the wine in the skillet, deglazing the skillet, scraping off any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Reduce the wine until thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Pour the wine over the short ribs and vegetables and add enough beef stock to cover the ribs. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Cook until the meat is fork tender (about 2½ hours). Serves 8

Ultimate BBQ Giveaway September 22 2016

Click here, to enter to win our Ultimate BBQ pack!

Bubba’s Bar-B-Q Tips September 22 2016

  • 9

    Get a quality piece of meat, whether
    it’s baby backs, spare ribs, whatever.


    It’s too late to season the meat after
    it’s cooked. You’ve seared it and
    closed the pores. Put your dry rub and
    spices on before you start.

  • 8
  • 7

    You have two choices: grilling or
    barbecuing. Grilling is done at
    high temperature, 400 degrees
    Fahrenheit, to cook the meat
    quickly and sear the juices in. Bar–
    b–q is done at a lower temperature.
    Low and slow is my motto.


    If you have wood chips, be careful
    what kind you use. Hickory and
    mesquite have a very strong flavor
    that not everyone likes.

  • 6
  • 5

    If your mama ever made soup,
    you might remember how the
    stock looked, all the stuff floating
    in the water after she boiled
    the meat. With ribs, that’s flavor
    you’re boiling out.


    Don’t make the meat swim in sauce.
    Only baste it with sauce the last
    5 minutes.

  • 6
  • 3

    Don’t just try to make a good
    meal. I tell my staff, the enemy of
    great is good. I’m not satisfied
    with good bar–b–q.


    Take the fat you cut off pulled– pork
    sandwiches and add it to the grill
    before cooking ribs. The smoking fat
    gives the ribs even more flavor.

  • 2
  • 1

    You can’t eat bar–b–q every day. If
    you did, we hope it would be ours!

Bubba's Boneless Ribs Kabob Recipe September 15 2016

Bubba’s Bar-B-Q Ribs August 04 2016

De-Boned Baby Back Rib Steak, Full Racks

Coaching points

Pan Place ribs in baking pan. Season with lemon pepper and parsley.

Pan Add 1 inch of water to pan and season water with hickory smoke seasoning.

Oven Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours.

Grill Remove meat from pan and place over hot coals.

Baste Baste with Bubba’s-Q World Famous Bar-B-Q Sauce.

Grill Cook about 4 minutes, turn over and cook other side for 4 more minutes.

Plate Serve to 4-6 and enjoy!

Shark Tank’s Blog for Bubba Q Boneless Baby Back Ribs December 04 2013

Please visit the Shark Tank Blog for information about the show.

Shark Tank Blog


Below is a preview from the site:

Boneless Ribs – Bubba’s Q

December 3, 2013 by Rob Merlino

Former NFL defensive Rookie of the Year Al “Bubba” Baker took to the kitchen when he retired from football and he’s cooking up some of his famous “patented” boneless ribs in the Shark Tank in episode 512. Al’s been making award-winning barbecue in Cleveland since he retired from the Cleveland Browns. Barbecue is in his blood: his family owns Jenkins Quality Barbecue in Jacksonville, Florida (there are three of them). My Jacksonville friends tell me the place is ridiculously good. Quality barbecue is one step closer to heaven: if you haven’t had good barbecue, you haven’t really lived!

It was Baker’s wife, Sabrina, who was the inspiration for Bubba’s boneless ribs. When he brought her to the family restaurant in Jacksonville for the first time, she said ribs were “too messy.” That didn’t exactly endear her to Baker’s family, but luckily, Mr. Baker overlooked her one “shortcoming” and kept her around. She runs the business end of Bubba’s Q while Al mans the kitchen.

The thought of ribs being “too messy to eat” gnawed at Baker for years and he eventually patented his boneless ribs which eat like a steak, but are ALL RIB. He has a patent on the boneless ribs product and the process for de-boning them. They’ve been a restaurant staple for years, but Bubba’s got plans to go national. He recently began mass producing them at nearby Heinen’s Supermarkets’ production facility, but the boneless ribs are still a regional play. Baker wants the Sharks to take him national.

My Take on Boneless Ribs

I like ribs. We smoke them and barbecue them at home a lot. Everyone in my family begs me to cook them more often. While we don’t share Mrs. Baker’s disdain for the mess, I can see the convenience of eating boneless ribs with a knife and fork. You could actually eat Bubba’s boneless ribs in your Sunday best!

Do Sharks Eat Ribs?

Food products are always touch and go in the Shark Tank, but a good product can (and often does) attract Sharks and their money. The Sharks will like the fact that they can eat Bubba’s boneless ribs in their fancy Shark suits, but even if they’re off the wall good, Mr. Baker better know his numbers. Margins are tight in the food business and the Sharks will disregard him if he doesn’t have his figures and valuation in order.

The one thing that will intrigue the Sharks is his patents. It’s very rare that FOOD gets patented, so boneless ribs are, and will continue to be, unique to Bubba’s. Bubba also sells his “famous” barbecue sauce, which could be a nice add-on product in the Sharks’ minds.

I don’t think Lori will go for this; she’s invested in food products before, but her comfort zone is products with mass appeal that she can sell on TV. She’ll like the ribs, but she’ll take a pass. Any of the other Sharks could go for Bubba’s. Mr. Wonderful will likely try his increasingly tiresome “royalty offer,” but Baker won’t go for that.

Robert may offer something, so might Mark, but I think Daymond goes in on Bubba’s boneless ribs. In the promo that aired after the last show, he has a sound bite where he says “let’s de-bone this pig!” It looked like he was excited about something and I think that something is the boneless ribs. He’ll like that he won’t have to mess up his fancy suits while eating barbecue! I think Daymond gets into the boneless ribs business. I’m ALL IN too, with a rack of boneless ribs, a side of slaw, and some sweet potato fries. And please pass the sauce!

If ‘Shark Tank’ rewards Al ‘Bubba’ Baker with a backer, it’ll be a win as sweet as his barbecue sauce December 04 2013

Originally posted on

AVON, Ohio — Al Baker is a man who’s used to long shots. When he appears on ABC-TV’s prime time program “Shark Tank” at 9 p.m. Friday (on Cleveland’s WEWS-TV-5), the former Cleveland Browns player knows that his shot at a chance to get financial backing from one of the nation’s wealthiest investors could be the longest shot of all.

“I have never been so nervous in my life,” he says flatly.

Baker’s appearance on “Shark Tank” is aimed at more than just grabbing a national spotlight for his patented invention: Bubba’s Q De-Boned baby back rib steaks. His goal is to garner the attention — and financial backing — of one of the show’s deep-pocket stars. Among the show’s investor “sharks” are Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the NBA championship Dallas Mavericks; Barbara Corcharan, New York City real estate tycoon; Daymond John, founder of FUBU clothing; Kevin O’Leary, venture capitalist, and Lori Greiner, the “Queen of QVC.”

The former NFL star attributes his nerves to all the hoops he’s had to jump through in order to make it onto the popular reality show. You’d think he had already faced every possible adversary, both on the playing field and throughout a long run as a restaurant owner. Bubba’s Q’ World Famous Bar-B-Q & Catering, originally located in Cleveland’s Shaker Square before moving to Avon, turns 20 in May.

And it’s not like he hasn’t overcome plenty of other hurdles over his lifetime.

As a kid growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, eventually gaining the nickname “Bubba,” he could only dream of life as a football player. Let alone landing a career that spanned 13 seasons as a defensive lineman on National Football League teams. Let alone recognition as Defensive Rookie of the Year. Much less multiple trips to the Pro Bowl. Or an MVP award from the Detroit Lions. Or his final years on the playing field, wearing Cleveland Browns colors. Or becoming a role model and an icon.

And then a chef.

“Man, I could scarcely have dreamed all this,” says Baker, who turns 57 on Monday.

On the eve of making his network television debut — in a venue quite different from his lifelong career – Baker marvels over a life that’s is very much a tapestry of blessings and breaks.

Maybe the first break came in the form of family. Baker comes from the family that runs Jacksonville’s much-loved Jenkins Quality Barbecue, with three locations in the Bold New City of the South. Sweet, smokey hot sauce runs in his blood.

Indeed, it was a trip back to Jacksonville — to introduce his then bride-to-be, Sabrina, to his family — that took Baker on the winding road that led him to the Sony Pictures Television lot in Southern California.

In the past, Baker has obliquely referred to his boneless baby backs as a creation born of convenience. Much as people love a good slab, they don’t like to eat them in restaurants.

But this past weekend, the 6-foot-eight-inch former player came clean on how the concept really came into being.

“I took Sabrina to meet my family, at Jenkins Quality,” Baker recalls. “Well, as soon as we sat down, they started bringing food out, setting all these platters and plates in front of Sabrina.

“Well, she just sat there, looking at everything, and then she opened her mouth. ‘Oh, no, no, no — I don’t eat all this. Ribs are too, too messy.’

“And all of a sudden like, the room got REALLY quiet,” Baker recalls. Though he describes himself as a deeply religious man, he felt the buckles of his faith strain mightily.

“About 17 people stopped what they were doing and just looked at me, and stared at her, and back at me. And I sat there thinking ‘Oh, Lord, please, please, quiet this woman, right NOW.’ ”

(To this day, Baker adds, “Some of them will still ask me, ‘You still with that Sabrina girl, the one who don’t eat no ribs?”)

He is, of course. She owns Bubba’s Q, handling the business end of things while Al Baker and his daughter, Brittani Bo Baker, handle the cooking and the recently formed subsidiary food company, Queen Ann Inc., named for Baker’s mother — “she’s Ann, the queen” — and grandmother, Annabelle.

The vivid reality of how some diners view spare ribs never left Baker.

“They’re messy, they’re time-consuming, and you throw the bones away,” is how he sums up the downside,” he says. So Baker set about developing a process by which he could completely remove the bones from his delectable dry-rubbed and apple wood-smoked baby back pork ribs.

When he finally mastered the process, the challenges were only beginning. Though they became an innovative option on the Bubba’s Q’ menu, he envisioned an audience well beyond Northeast Ohio.

That’s when the long shots came like a meteor shower.

“They told me ‘you’re never going to get a patent on a food, that just doesn’t happen,’ but in 2010 I won the patent on the food product — then in 2011, on the process,” he says.

Even then, he required state or federally inspected production facilities in order to safely produce meat products. Tom and Jeff Heinen of Heinen’s Supermarkets agreed to allow him the use of their production plant — after hours and on weekends. Which meant crosstown drives from Avon to Warrensville Heights in the middle of the night to produce the smoked and fully cooked, Cryovac-wrapped, heat-and-eat rib steaks. And then leave the facilities spotless.

“In this business you have layer upon layer upon layer… and at every step you have to develop and secure customer acceptance and respect,” Baker says. “When you work with meat, you DON’T make mistakes. It’s too costly, in every respect.”

About a thousand hurdles later — product test-marketing in grocery stores, consultations with members of the business department faculty at Baldwin-Wallace University, working with idea incubator JumpStart Inc. — Baker and his daughter found themselves in a large room on the lot of Sony Pictures Television.

“At this ‘pre-pitch’ they [the 'Shark Tank' producers] told us: ‘Give yourselves a hand.’ You started out with 35,000 other small business people – then we paired it down to 12,000, and then fewer and few… and now there are 36 of you.

” ‘But Sony has us down, contracted, for 22 episodes. Meaning, about a dozen of you won’t be on the show.’

“And among the contestants it was no longer social, all of a sudden. Everybody realized that a lot of us are going home with nothing, not even an episode. And the producers are very matter of fact, telling us ‘even if we tape you, we may not air your episode; there could be some sort of news, a catastrophe, or the president may have a press conference…’

When “Shark Tank” producers notified him that they’d be visiting the Bakers at their home, their restaurant and other locations in the Avon area during early November, Bubba Baker was cautiously elated.

And when he got the call last week that his episode would indeed air — “I’m keeping my fingers crossed there’s no national emergency,” he laughs — he began to relax. Just a little.

“I AM sleeping, finally,” he says. “And whether you believe in this or not, at least in MY Bible there’s no passage where God led the Israelites to the river Jordan and said ‘OK, fellas, you’re on your own. Cross it yourself.’

“It’s not my talent. It’s not my skill level. Of course, my family and our workers have done so much. But this is called ‘Favor.’ It has nothing to do with my ability or influence. Just, after a lot of hard knocks, my God up there has said ‘I’ve brought you this far. Trust me.’ “

Bubba’s-Q in Avon to be on ABC’s Shark Tank December 02 2013

Thank you to “The Morning Journal” for a wonderful article about Al’s appearance on Shark Tank

Original Article posted here

AVON — One of Avon’s own family-owned restaurants is preparing to make its television debut.

Bubba’s-Q Bar-B-Q and Catering, 820 Center Road, will be highlighted on Episode 513 of ABC Television Network’s “Shark Tank” from 9 to 10 p.m. Friday.

The owner of Bubba’s-Q, Al “Bubba” Baker, will showcase his restaurant’s patented DeBoned Baby Back Rib Steak.For those unfamiliar with the popular reality television show, “Shark Tank” is a show featuring aspiring entrepreneurs giving business pitches to a panel of potential investors, known as “sharks.”

Baker will attempt to sell the “sharks” on his marinated, dry-rubbed ribs that can be ready to eat in just two minutes using nothing but a conventional microwave.

Being in the spotlight is nothing new to Baker, a former defensive end for the Cleveland Browns.

Since retiring from professional football and opening his restaurant in 2005, Baker has remained popular locally and nationally, coming in eighth place this year on USA Today’s list of 20 best athlete-owned restaurants.

Apart from being recognized by USA Today, Bubba’s-Q was awarded Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Award for “Best Ribs” and “Best Barbecue Restaurant” for four consecutive years.

Bubba’s-Q offers customers a full menu of barbeque cuisine such as ribs, homemade cole slaw, pulled pork and mac and cheese.

For more information about Bubba’s-Q, visit or call 440-937-7859.