Our Story

Grandpa used to say there are three religions in the South. On Saturdays, Southerners flock to stadiums to cheer. On Sundays they go to church and pray. But on every day you can find Southerners engaged in the pursuit and praise of good barbecue.


In 1970, Convenie Thomas returned to Tuscaloosa and began cooking for The University of Alabama “Roll Tide” for their events. In 1971 his dream became a reality, he opened Thomas’ Restaurant as a neighborhood smorgasbord serving everything from mustard greens to macaroni and cheese to his legendary smoked barbecue.

After 10 successful years, Convenie’s two sons discovered they were selling more barbecue ribs, chicken and beef so they decided to relocate and open Thomas’ Rib Shack. They moved to Northport, Alabama where the smoking and grilling process was perfected. Their business was a success and continued until 1999 when the Original Grill Master, Convenie, passed the legacy to the next generation.


In 2002, the legacy passed to the third generation and decided bring the South to the North. Thomas’ BBQ was established in Aurora, Illinois. It was a hit. The summer trips to Alabama paid off. The lessons, the secret recipes, the process was implemented to perfection. Thomas' Barbecue has become into a thriving restaurant and caterer.