A Great Loss: Mike Wilson of SAW’s Barbecue

Mike Wilson, the genius behind SAW’s BBQ, SAW’s Soul Kitchen, and SAW’s Juke Joint, died over the Labor Day weekend, of all the weekends of the year.

Mike opened SAW’s BBQ in Homewood, Alabama, in 2009. The first time I went there, back in 2014, I posted that “SAW’s Barbecue in Homewood, Alabama, serves what may well be the moistest, most tender barbecue in the world.” Later visits showed that the ribs measured up. So good. I subsequently ate at each of his restaurants. Each had its own personality, and and I loved each. The Pork and Greens at the Juke Joint were just wonderful. No less an authority than my cousin-in-law, Eric Lee, insists that SAW’s has the best barbecue in the world, and Eric knows his barbecue. We each have our favorites, but Eric certainly is not alone in that assessment.

I never met Mike Wilson. You hear a lot about how friendly he was, and so forth. I believe it. What always struck me was his obvious self-deprecating sense of humor. You may be wondering why I’m capitalizing SAW’s, and why he used “SAW’s” rather than “Wilson’s” as the name on his restaurants. SAW is actually an acronym for a nickname he got in high school. It stands for Sorry Ass Wilson. Anyone who can adopt and revel in a nickname like that is a wonderful, wonderful person, someone I wish I’d known.

Mike Wilson opened SAW’s when he was only 35, so I guess he would be 46 now. So young. So sad. Such a losss. Join me in praying for SAW, for his family, and for his loved ones. And head on over to one of his places and celebrate a life well lived.


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