BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association, in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, today recognized outstanding Alabama retailers representing 12 retail businesses with operations in 72 Alabama cities and 31 states as Retailers of the Year. The 12 winning Retailers of the Year were chosen from almost 50 nominees. The presentations were made at The Club in Birmingham during the 2013 Retail Day Luncheon. This marked the 14th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Van Sykes, owner and corporate pit master for Bob Sykes Bar B Q Restaurant in Bessemer, earned the Gold Retailer of the Year Award in the Annual Sales $1 Million to $5 Million category. The second generation family business has been a Bessemer stable for 56 years. The Alabama Retailer of the Year judges commended the business for its longevity and the quality of its food, while lauding Van Sykes for his community commitment.
Sykes has been a member of the Bessemer Legacy YMCA board of directors for 25 years and has served two terms as the organization’s president. The Rotary Club of Bessemer recognized his years of service with its Lifetime Award. He has been a member of the Bessemer Chamber of Commerce board for 30 years. In 2010, the Bessemer chamber awarded Sykes with its Charles A. Long, Sr. Outstanding Civic Award. He also serves on the American Red Cross board of directors.
Promoting Bessemer along with the restaurant was the impetus for the Annual Bob Sykes BBQ and Blues Festival, a one-day event featuring a half dozen blues artists performing in DeBardeleben Park in historic downtown Bessemer. In its fourth year, the event achieved record attendance this summer. Besides promoting Bessemer, the festival this year benefited Hands On Birmingham and the Bessemer Education Enhancement Foundation. The 5th Annual Bob Sykes BBQ and Blues Festival is set for May 31, 2014.
Sykes literally grew up in his family’s restaurant. “Instead of model trains, cowboy suits, and tricycles, Van’s first toys were mixing bowls, bus pans, and napkin holders,” his company profile reads. He is the second generation of Sykes to run the restaurant founded by his parents, Bob and Maxine Sykes. The family business also has a third generation influence. Sykes’ nephew, Jason Jewell, manages the restaurant.
Van Sykes promotes the restaurant with monthly cooking segments on local television affiliates. Sales have experienced double-digit growth in the past year. To help boost sales, the restaurant developed its own app, which allows patrons to order directly from their mobile devices.
But for Ronnie Acker, president of the Bessemer Area Chamber of Commerce, who nominated Sykes for the award, it is “the sauce that makes the difference and when you enjoy their ribs, pork, chicken, or beef you know why,” Acker said in his nomination.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Van Sykes is a retailer of the year EVERY year to his customers, his 27 employees and the entire Bessemer community.”
Media Contact: Van Sykes, Bob Sykes Bar B Q Restaurant | 205.426.1400
Media Contact: Nancy King Dennis | 334.551.0643 (d) | 800.239.5423