Tampa barbecue restaurant serving food and community through service

A family-owned restaurant is serving food as well as serving the community by paying its success forward.

Every day is a busy day at Big John's Alabama BBQ.

"The Tampa Bay area, they really showed us how much they really love and care about the product that we produced for over 50 years," manager Corey Miller said.

Pastor John A. Stephens and his wife, Sallie opened the East Tampa eatery in 1968. The patriarchs have passed away, but the lessons they taught will live on for generations.

"The stuff that he has done in the past, now we are reaping some of the benefits of the good seeds that he sowed," Miller said.

The good seeds that he sowed were helping the less fortunate.

"He always taught us that once God blesses you with something it's your responsibility to bless as many people that you come in contact with," Miller explained.

So the family paid it forward by supplying more than 1,000 free meals to Bay Area children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"So we just went around to various parts of the city, West Tampa, Sulphur Springs, East Tampa, and try to show a little love and concern," said Miller.

"One kid was saying 'What's the name of the place? What's the name of the place? Momma, we need to go back there. We need to really go back there and help them because we love their food,'" laughed volunteer Juanita Mitchell.

Miller says the message is simple: "What's the purpose of having and not being able to help?"

Big John's Alabama BBQ is located at 5707 N 40th St, Tampa, FL 33610. For more information, visit http://www.bigjohnsalabamabbq.com/.