Our Story

What started with an Oklahoma State University graduate assistant just trying to make a little extra money one summer has turned into a legacy of award-winning barbecue. Joe Davidson was raised on a ranch in Okemah, Oklahoma and worked as a welder to pay his way through college. With a degree in Agricultural Education, Joe had planned on one day becoming a college professor, but when the young entrepreneur decided to build 12 woodburning smokers and display them at the Oklahoma State Fair in 1987, that decision changed his life forever. Joe discovered he had a God-given passion for mastering his craft of providing the best experience in all things barbecue.

Oklahoma State Fair

Using $2,000 he had saved up, Joe built 12 smokers and took them to the 1987 Oklahoma State Fair. They all sold on the first weekend, and when the smoke cleared, Joe left with orders to build over 100 more. Those orders took 6 months to build and deliver and gave Joe the confidence to name his company. Oklahoma Joe's Smoker and Grill Company was born.

Joe standing in front of a white truck with smokers in the flat bed
Joe with a smoker
Handcrafted Smokers

Everywhere Joe went, the smokers were on fire, so to speak. Orders began piling in, and Joe soon found himself manufacturing smokers and growing his brand presence in the United States and Europe. Oklahoma Joe's Manufacturing quickly grew, building and selling barbecue smokers to major distributors around the world. Joe sold Oklahoma Joe's Smokers to Charbroil back in 1998 and is proud to continue to work with them as Spokesperson and Founder.

The Passion

With his passion for building smokers naturally came a love for barbecue and an interest in barbecue competitions. After his first competition in 1987, the T-Town BBQ Cook-off, he was hooked on the idea of creating award-winning barbecue. Joe mastered the art of barbecue, and he and his team won over 300 titles, including the coveted Grand Champion Overall titles at the Jack Daniels's World Championship, American Royal, and the World Pork Barbequolassal. Over the years, Joe has perfected his craft, using only the best ingredients, to create an unforgettable flavor and barbecue experience.

Over 300 Titles Won

Someone Has to be

The best in the world

Joe continued to build smokers and rack up cook-off titles, but he wanted to do more. He set his sights on opening a restaurant where he could share his award-winning barbecue and passion for great food with the world. In 1994, a fellow cooking competitor and good friend became a business partner. Jeff Stehney had butted heads with Joe in numerous competitions, both taking turns winning titles, when the two became friends and discussed opening a restaurant together. In 1995, they opened the first Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue in Stillwater and soon after in 1996 opened another in Kansas City in a gas station with one thing in mind, that was cooking world championship BBQ that is the best in the world! Today, there are 5 Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue locations in Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Catoosa, and Omaha, Nebraska. Each restaurant combines the best low heat, slow cooking techniques with a unique blend of spices and sauces to create a taste that's world-class.

Joe Davidson signature

"Someone has to be the best, why can't it be us?"


Restaurant Locations

Best BBQ Sauce & Spice

On the Planet

As an award-winning barbecue pitmaster, Joe has worked for decades to create a formula for what's been awarded the "Best BBQ on the Planet." Starting with quality meats, the proprietary blend of spices is rubbed over the meats and then smoked with seasoned pecan wood in specially designed smokers. In fact, Joe invented his own specific blend of spices for each kind of meat. These unique spice and sauce combinations create a truly Oklahoma barbecue flavor – one that's not too sweet, not too vinegary, but just right. Named "Best Barbecue Sauce and Best Dry Rub on the Planet," these specialty blends are now available to take home from your local grocery store, this website, and the Oklahoma Joe's restaurants.