Former Cleveland Browns defensive end Al "Bubba" Baker played with the team in 1987, 1989, and 1990 registering 14 sacks in 35 games while at the end of his career before retiring from professional football.
(Just as a heads up, if you're looking to read this for current Cleveland Browns information, you should just stop right here and move on because this is an article about great food at a fun restaurant that is owned by a former Browns player.)
Today (6/12/10) I went out with my girlfriend and my father to celebrate his 60th birthday and he choose to go to Baker's Bubba's Q restaurant in Avon, OH, which is a west suburb of Cleveland.
This was the first time I have been to Bubba's Q and being the Browns' fan I am, once my father said he wanted to eat there, I was down before he could finish his sentence.
Now this article is not about me or my father's birthday, but this is about the experience we had eating at a former Browns' players' restaurant that I wanted to share with all those who have never been there.
Opened by Baker and his wife Sabrina in 2005, Bubba's Q has won many awards for the original sauces used and tenderness of their ribs. They even were cited as the "Best Barbecue Destination in the Nation" in Sports Illustrated's July 2, 2007 issue.
The restaurant is loaded with football merchandise including: a signed jersey by Bernie Kosar, a signed pair of cleats by John Elway (boo), signed helmets, and many other pieces of sports memorabilia.
There was also a video running on a loop of the 1989 Browns' team who won their division and made it all the way to AFC Championship game only to suffer a defeat from the hated Denver Broncos and quarterback John Elway on January 14, 1990.
The one item that caught my eye was an article from Pro Football Weekly that talked about Baker's rookie year. Back in 1978 when Baker was a rookie, the statistic for sacks was not kept, and this article made me aware that as a rookie Baker had 23 sacks which would have destroyed the current rookie record held by Jevan Kearse of 14.5 set in 1999.
In one particular game against Tamp Bay, Baker registered five sacks as a rookie.
Getting back to the food, Bakers featured item is his D-Boned baby back ribs, and let me tell you for the price they were worth every penny.
I have always been one to enjoy eating ribs right off of the bone, but when you can just dig into a rack of ribs with a fork and a knife, it was like eating a fillet. The ribs were so tender and delicious neither of us took anything home in a box because we could not stop eating until they were all gone.
According to Bubba's Q's Web site, Baker learned a technique of cooking ribs from his uncle back in the 1950's in Jacksonville, FL. Baker's uncle taught him everything and all the family secrets that he currently knows about barbecuing all the way down to "what type of wood best accents the different flavors of each cut of meat."
Another fun experience of going to Bubba's Q, is the fact that Baker himself is there talking and mingling with the customers.
He even saw that a table next to where we were sitting needed a refill on their beers, and he came back with fresh ones and told them, "Sorry for the wait, these drinks are on me."
Baker is 54-years-old and still looks like he could take down a quarterback, but instead he is taking down rack after rack of ribs and putting them into his customers bellies.
No complaints from my girlfriend, my father, or myself and I strongly recommend that you try Baker's ribs, because they are by far the best I've ever tasted hands down and I cannot wait to return to try his barbecue chicken next time.