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Jan/Feb 2010 Issue

Grillin and Chillin
‘ShedHeds’ go hog wild for this little barbecue joint’s award-winning meats, sides and music.
By Don Redman

It’s not a fancy restaurant, but despite its slapdash construction, The Shed in Ocean Springs, Miss., is a first-rate barbecue joint, and it does have a charm of its own.

inside of the shed

Years of dumpster diving by founder Brad Orrison has garnered enough items to create the “funky chic” look to The Shed’s interior space. Don Redman photo

“I swear there’s something about that old shed that just seems to make everything taste better,” says 33-year-old Brad Orrison, presxident and founder of The Shed. “We use the same spices, the same rub, the same sauce at all our other restaurants, but there must be something in all that old wood.”

Customers Mark and Susan, who asked that their last names not be used, agree with Orrison. “This is our first time here,” says Susan. “We’re from Daphne, Ala., and we’ve been to (The Shed) in Mobile, but I like it better here. It’s the atmosphere. I just love all these picnic benches out here.”

She’s talking about the scores of wooden picnic tables lined in rows outside under the full sun. Also outside are a covered cabana and a bandstand where ShedHeds–a term of affection for loyal patrons–gather on weekends to hear live performances of Delta blues and dine on barbecue.

You can, of course, eat inside, and that alone is a treat. Perhaps “funky chic” is the best way to describe the décor. Orrison’s taste in “found objects” and rural folk art decorate the interior, along with official Shed merchandise and sauces, rope lights and dollar bills autographed by customers and plastered to the walls and ceiling tiles. All and all, it’s quite cozy.

It’s a family affair

The Shed in Ocean Springs opened almost 10 years ago after Orrison had an epiphany of sorts. An avid collector, (he calls himself a “dumpster diver”) Orrison returned from Oxford, Miss., where he attended school at Ole Miss. One evening while scrounging through dumpsters for discarded objects, an idea to open a barbecue joint came to him.

Working with his younger sister, Brooke Lewis, they perfected smoking techniques, created a spice rub and, with the aid of their father, developed a sauce. Using the family RV park and campground as the base of operations, Orrison put all the lumber, scrap tin and anything else he had scrounged over the years to use in building what we know today as “The Shed.” Their brother Brett, a sound engineer, wasn’t about to be left out, and he brought with him the skills and experience to bring live music to The Shed, completing dynamite “Barbeque and Blues Joint.”

Today, Orrison and company have opened five franchise restaurants, most recently in Hattiesburg, Miss. Other locations include Gulfport, Miss.; Mobile, Ala.; Destin, Fla.; and Scott, La.

Customers can purchase bottles of The Shed’s barbecue sauce at any location, but Orrison said plans are currently in the works to release the sale of the sauce and spice rub to regional grocery markets with an eye toward a national distribution shortly afterward.

“We think this is going to be huge,” Orrison said. To pull it off, he has recruited his father, Craig, out of retirement to oversee the sauce operations.

Darn fine BBQ

So how is the food? The numerous awards it’s racked up over the years should be testament enough. A sampling includes making the National Barbecue News magazine’s list of the “Best of the Best BBQ Restaurants in America.” This past summer, The Shed won top honors for its pulled pork sandwich in a competition aired live on the “Regis and Kelly Show,” and placed third in the Whole Hog competition in Memphis at the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Its sauce received the “Award of Excellence” from the National Barbecue Association. AAA Southern Traveler readers last year voted The Shed as the second-best barbecue joint in the South.

Simply put, it is some of the best barbecue I have ever tasted. The meat literally melts off the bone. The spices and sauce truly complement the meal, acting more like background music to the succulent flavor of the meat.

The “Shed Sampler Platter” is a great starting point, with more than enough for two people to share. You get a little of everything, including three sides. Two sides I highly recommend are the baked potato salad and the macaroni salad, both divine.

If the sampler is too big, a good substitute is the combo plate with a choice of two meats and two sides. I chose the baby back ribs and chicken. I just can’t imagine that you will go wrong with anything on the menu The Shed is a great little barbecue joint the whole family can enjoy.

The original location is at 7501 state Highway 57 in Ocean Springs. Take Exit 57 from Interstate 10 and travel north for about 1,000 yards and it will be to the left. You can visit The Shed online at for a sample menu, or call (228) 875-9590. Take out and catering are available, too.

Don Redman is associate editor of AAA Southern Traveler.


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