It’s pretty common knowledge that Jerry “The King” Lawler is a Memphis, Tennessee institution. As a child of the 1980s, I was familiar with Lawler’s work initially as an announcer with the WWF (WWE). Eventually, I learned a bit more through the classic 1999 film Man on the Moon, which discussed Lawler’s feud with Andy Kaufman. As I delved through the Wrestlecrap forums in the mid-2000s and Youtube came online, I started to see more of the matches that made Lawler a star.
Imagine my surprise when we drove by Jerry Lawler’s Memphis BBQ Company when we stopped to pick up holiday gifts en route back to Ohio. I had heard about the restaurant through Jim Cornette’s podcast but never imagined that we’d be able to stop. Pulling in to a fairly nondescript strip mall, we entered the restaurant and placed our order.
The Jerry Lawler Memphis BBQ Company is adorned with blown-up pictures of Lawler’s matches with a number of legendary performers. Chairs are the type that you’d imagine was in any of the armories or civic auditoriums where Lawler wrestled, while there is a set of ring ropes acting as a center piece. After you marvel at all the ambiance, start out with a trio of appetizers, including BBQ nachos ($8.99), fresh fried pork rinds which are crispy ($4.99) and adorned with a goodly amount of the house-crafted rub, sweet potato fries with powdered sugar and maple syrup ($4.49).
For those looking to keep a svelte figure, a salad ($6.99) containing pecans and strawberries can be topped with chicken, pulled pork, or brisket (for an additional charge). The meats deserve the greatest focus here. Where so many other places make their barbecue chicken dry and mealy, Jerry Lawler’s chicken is succulent and possesses a deep, sweet, and smoky flavor to each bite. The smoked sausage is rich and pops when one takes a bite, while the pulled pork and brisket are strong inclusions whenever one chooses a platter (up to three meats, along with a pair of sides and a roll for $9.99). The restaurant’s “Big Red Splash” is a tremendous value for the stated $13.95 price, coming with a pair of ribs alongside the rest of the meats, coupled with two sides. Each of the non-rib meats can be put into a “Slamwich”, which can be loaded up with slaw for an additional bit of brightness.All the traditional sides – fries, slaw, beans, mac & cheese, chips, and potato salad – are available. Kids meals are also available ($5.49) which provided our daughter with two solid meals worth of eating.
Of course, there are larger platters for those with big appetites of for family reunions or other get-togethers. While we only stopped in for lunch, we could easily see picking up a “Main Event” ($59.95) which provides a party three full pounds of meat, 4 pints of sides, 8 rolls and ample amounts of sauces.
Lawler’s BBQ sauces and rubs, along with shirts representing the store, are also available for purchase. The restaurant is located at 465 N Germantown Parkway in Cordova, Tennessee and maintains hours from 11 AM until 9 PM every night. Make sure to pick up a peach cobbler or banana pudding before leaving.