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Alabama Original: Big Bob Gibson BBQ

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The sweet sound of the tickets printing at Big Bob Gibson BBQ can only mean one thing: it's eating time.  

Ribs, loaded potatoes, beans, chicken, wings or pie — the restaurant is ready to serve it all.

"When I get off the plane, I come to Bob Gibson's," said longtime customer Eddie Turrentine.

Turrentine is one of many, lifelong customers of Big Bob's.

"(We've) been cooking the same recipe for almost 100 years now, and it's still as popular as ever," said owner Andrew Lilly. "Me and my brother, we're both fifth-generation and we both have two sons, so maybe they'll be sixth-generation!"

They've been cooking up great food for years. And like an eternal flame, the smoker to make it all never goes cold.

"We're running the same fire from January to December," said Lilly.

"I think that's the thing about Bob Gibson's that I like, is it's very consistent," said Turrentine. "You know what you're going to get, you know when you're going to get it and you know what it's going to taste like, and that's huge."

A big part of Big Bob's success boils down to one creamy, unique sauce: the famous Big Bob Gibson white barbecue sauce.

"He had his famous white sauce," said Lilly of his great-great grandfather. "It's one of those things; you either hate it or you love it."

The famous, often-copied recipe was brand-new 100 years ago and original to Decatur. A century later, Lilly and his brother can still say the same thing.

"To me, it's about carrying on the legacy of my great-great-grandad, my great-grandfather and my granddad, who is still here, and doing them proud and just keeping the tradition alive," said Lilly.

And that's what keep people like Turrentine and his kids coming back.

"Good food. You don't have to change it. If people like it, they'll keep coming back," said Turrentine.

Big Bob's has two locations in Decatur: one on Danville Road and their main location on Sixth Avenue.

If you have an idea for an Alabama Original, email Luke at To see all of Luke's other "Alabama Originals," click here.

Fifth-generation Big Bob Gibson BBQ Owner Andrew Lilly speaks on how his restaurant has stayed alive nearly 100 years and its connection to Decatur. Plus, Lilly discusses the unchanged recipes of the past century that make the restaurant so special.

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