UPDATED: Memphis-based Central BBQ to open Fayetteville location

UPDATE: This story was updated to include quotes from Central BBQ and Specialized Real Estate Group.

Central BBQ at 6201 Poplar Ave. in Memphis (Courtesy photo/Central BBQ)

Memphis BBQ is coming to Fayetteville.

The owners of Memphis-based restaurant Central BBQ are planning to open a location at 417 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at the corner of South School Avenue. Permit information for the new restaurant was submitted to the state Health Department this week.

The restaurant is one of at least three concepts expected to set up shop in the commercial spaces at South Yard, a new development by locals Specialized Real Estate Group on the site of the old Farmers’ Coop in Fayetteville.

“Memphis has always had a love for Razorback Nation, and so it wasn’t a matter of “if” but “when,” said Brian Wyatt, COO of Central BBQ. “We could not be more thrilled to partner with the great team at Specialized to add some smoke to South Yard and the Fayetteville BBQ experience.”

The menu at Central BBQ focuses on all the staples you’d expect at a barbecue restaurant, including ribs, brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, and of course, barbecue sandwiches topped with their signature coleslaw. They are also known for shipping their ribs right from the restaurant directly to consumers around the country.

The restaurant company opened its first location in 2002 after founders Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp met and became friends on the barbecue circuit in the mid-80s. Since then, Central BBQ has grown to operate four locations in Memphis along with two Nashville locations. The restaurant chain has received national attention, including features on television shows such as Pitmasters, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, BBQ with Bobby Flay, and others.

South Yard construction site (Fayetteville Flyer photo/Todd Gill)

A new investment group is currently working to expand the restaurant chain, and has plans for several new Central BBQ locations around the southeast, a company representative told the Flyer.

The Fayetteville location will likely be the first Central BBQ in Arkansas, though it might not be the first to open outside of Tennessee. A location currently under construction in Southaven, Mississippi may earn that distinction.

The South Yard development will also include commercial space for retail, offices, and other types of businesses. South Yard Lofts are also located on the site, which include studio apartments as well as one- and two-bedroom apartments that are currently available for lease.

“We are thrilled that South Yard will be home to Central BBQ’s first location in Arkansas,” said Jeremy Hudson, CEO of Specialized Real Estate Group. “Central BBQ will be easily accessible through the Razorback Greenway and is an important partner in our effort to create unique, walkable places for our community.”

Construction of the site is currently underway. If all goes well, the new restaurant will open sometime in early 2023.

Rendering of the interior of the Central BBQ location in Fayetteville (Courtesy photo/Central BBQ)
(Courtesy image/Specialized Real Estate Group)