Al “Bubba” Baker had a very successful career as a one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, playing for 13 seasons with the Detroit Lions, St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Browns. But he had a passion that few knew about back then: the fine art of barbecuing ribs as handed down by his uncle. So there he was, glorying in his special way with ribs, and there was his wife, Sabrina, really hating ribs. Too messy.
Bubba came up with a way to debone the ribs after they were cooked. They could be reheated in a microwave and eaten with a fork and knife. There were competitors with boneless ribs, but they cut the pieces off the bone before cooking and then just pieced them back together—didn’t fool anyone. You need to cook the meat on the bone to get the flavor. Bubba also figured out to debone the ribs on a large scale for mass production.
When he finally hung up his football helmet, he donned a chef’s hat and opened his BBQ restaurant with his partner, and daughter, Brittani Bo Baker. They struggled, and later they saw that they were losing the struggle. Where to turn for help? The Shark Tank, of course.
Bubba and Brittany microwaved their boneless ribs and gave them to the unbelieving sharks. Case closed! Kevin and Daymond offered to invest in the company. Kevin wanted 49% of the company. Daymond wanted 30%. Daymond got the deal. The irony is that Daymond had never wanted to invest in a food product. He had seen the flagrant waste and high odds of failure while a server at the Red Lobster. But Bubba and the flavor of the ribs won him over.
Where Is Bubba-Q Now?
Daymond’s first piece of advice to Bubba was to get a website up and running and able to take orders before the episode aired. Good thing! By the end of the first week, the website brought in $200,000. In five months, $400,000. The ribs had only been bringing in $150,000 a year from the restaurant and a few local stores.
Bubba-Q Boneless Ribs are sold in more than 7,000 stores nationwide, on QVC, and in Yankee Stadium. Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. sell the ribs in sandwiches. Latest figures put Bubba-Q as worth $16 million. And it’s still growing with more stores coming on and new flavors in the works. Daymond believes that Bubba-Q will one day be his biggest Shark Tank deal.