Fred’s Small Time Bar-B-Q has big taste

Published 2:33 pm Monday, August 27, 2012

Fred Small serves succulent meat smoked daily at his restaurant, Fred’s Small Time Bar-B-Q. (contributed)

By MOLLIE BROWN / Business Columnist

There’s nothing small about the big taste of Fred’s Small Time Bar-B-Q.

Owner Fred Small developed his barbecue rub when cooking was a hobby.

“When I cooked for friends they’d say, ‘Man your food is so good, you should think about selling it,’ ” Small said. “I did here and there, turkeys for holidays and briskets, but that was about it until I started a catering business.”

Small attended Morris Brown College his freshman year. He got home sick and called his mom.

“I told my mom I wanted to go to culinary school and she said, ‘Cula who?’ I said culinary school and she asked me why. I told her I really liked cooking, but she convinced me to get a degree.”

Small obtained a degree in criminal justice from UAB, but the door never opened for him in law enforcement. He began a career in automobile sales and married his wife, Vonshelia, in 2000. They have two sons, Malachi and Micah. Small laughed, saying they would be more fittingly named Cain and Abel ‘cause they stay at each other.”

The business name is a result of a catering service the Smalls started in their home in 2009. When Vonshelia asked what first came to his mind about the business, Small answered, “Me.” Fred’s Small Time is a reflection of the humble beginning and fits his surname.

When Small lost his sales job in March, the smoker he was prompted to purchase last Christmas made sense.

“My wife asked why I bought the smoker and I said I don’t know, but we need it for what’s coming. She asked what’s coming and I said I don’t know, but we need it.”

With the help of family members, Small opened for business in June. The menu is smoked meat, chicken, pork and burgers, cooked on the smoker. Sandwiches, plates (with sides) and desserts are included. My favorite side is his homemade sweet potato cobbler.

Fred’s Small Time Bar-B-Q restaurant is located on U.S. 31 across from Calera Post Office. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Catering services are available for any size event. Call for prices at 690-8520.


Mollie Brown is a business columnist for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at