A Few Thoughts on Coleman’s BBQ

Here’s a small disadvantage to having a blog as big as ours: facts get buried very easily.

Several times over the seven years we’ve done this, a little repetition shows up in our writing, particularly when I’ve asked about the history of a barbecue place. I’ll note that John Doe’s BBQ was once the home of Joe Blow’s. There have been an awful lot of Joe Blow’s. Nothing lasts forever, especially in the world of restaurants. Marie and I don’t really have the resources or time to track down every Joe Blow’s when we’re celebrating the meal we had at John Doe’s.

Then, adding to that, the way we chose to do this blog, or the way it evolved, means that we add story after story and rather quickly forget we ever heard about Joe Blow’s at all. It’s not like we ever ate there.

In 2016, we were travelling to Memphis and stopped at a restaurant in Collierville called Captain John’s. I learned then that this business had once been one of the many stores in an old chain called Coleman’s.

I linked, then, to one of the sources I’d used on that story, the Ghost Pit Chronicles, but something from it went in one eye and out the other. The Coleman’s chain, which started in 1966, grew to 176 locations across a span from Texas to Florida. That’s incredibly impressive.

Today, only two Coleman’s seem to still exist. They are in northern Mississippi, though still part of the Memphis metro area. The last remaining Coleman’s in Tennessee was on Millbranch Road and closed earlier this year. From the Chronicles Tumblr, here’s the Hernando store below. As you see, Coleman’s stores have the same shape. It’s not anywhere as distinctive as a Shrimp Boats building, and therefore far less likely to cause me to do a double-take when I’m driving.

However, while I will hopefully never get whiplash on the road from sighting one of these boring rectangles, it’s very possible that I might find a smile when I run across a photo of one. Such pics could be anywhere, even on our own blog.

This was Plaza BBQ, a restaurant in Guin AL that I visited in 2012 when I did the very first of my two-day trips, driving around and eating. I was feeling nostalgic for that trip and reread the seven posts about it a couple of weeks ago. This circumnavigation around Alabama was enormous fun and I learned so much on the vacation. It even says so in that chapter. I noted that Plaza “occupies the building that was once home to Coleman’s BBQ,” but I didn’t, then, know what Coleman’s was. I suppose I assumed that it was a local place that some local person named Coleman had opened. I didn’t know that chain existed, nor that it grew to 176 stores. Plaza closed back in 2013, a year or maybe eighteen months after my visit.

According to the 1972 Memphis city directory, there were nine in the city limits, and probably more in the suburbs.

The Millbranch Road store closed just a few weeks ago. Ellen’s Soul Food has moved into the space.

According to the Ghost Pit Chronicles, here are the two Coleman’s that are still around. Stop by one of them sometime, while they’re still with us and you still can. Nothing lasts forever.

554 E Commerce St, Hernando, MS 38632
312 E Main St, Senatobia, MS 38668

Did your town have a Coleman’s once upon a time? Let us know where and when in a comment below! We’d love to hear from you.

Are you planning a barbecue road trip? You can see all the barbecue restaurants that we have visited for our blog (more than 420 !) on this map, with links back to the original blog posts!

4 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts on Coleman’s BBQ

  1. I’m from Guin ALabama. The place you were referring to was indeed a Coleman’s BBQ. I believe there was also one in Sulligent just a few miles to the west in Lamar County. Way back in the early 70’s. The best I can remember they really good places to eat.

  2. In the 70s there was a Coleman’s BBQ in tunica, ms. The very best BBQ sandwich ever!!

  3. My grandfather, A.B. Coleman was the founder of Coleman’s Bar-B-Q. He franchised the stores. Due to the way the contracts were written, he lost all of the stores. The only shops that are left are owned relatives. It is a great story and a great business case with missed opportunities to expand globally.

Comments are closed.