Tops Under New Ownership

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Announced this morning, Tops Bar-B-Q has been sold to an investment group, which includes Tiger Bryant, who is behind Young Avenue Deli and Soul Fish.

The other investors are Darrell Horn of Green Wealth Management and Matt Salisbury, a banker. Terry Trim, a restaurant vet and most recently director of operations at Kooky Canuck, will act as president.

The restaurant, which has 15 locations in the area, is known for its pulled pork topped burgers and brisket.

Full release below.

Tops Bar-B-Q Announces New Ownership

Investor group acquires the 67-year-old award-winning restaurant group and iconic brand
New owners will continue the legendary restaurant’s tradition of great barbeque, delicious burgers and friendly service

MEMPHIS, TENN. – April 2, 2019 – Tops Bar-B-Q today announced that the company has been acquired by an investor group led by Darrell Horn, Matt Salisbury, and Tiger Bryant, a local restaurateur and founder of Soul Fish Café and Young Avenue Deli. With 15 locations throughout the greater Memphis area, the award-winning Tops Bar-B-Q has been serving classic barbeque, burgers and more in a family-friendly atmosphere for 67 years.

The new ownership team brings to the table both extensive restaurant expertise and financial acumen to build on what is already a successful business. Maintaining the warm customer experience, popular menu and friendly staff – the heart and soul of Tops – are the owners’ top priorities.

“Tops Bar-B-Q is a special institution in Memphis, and barbeque is big business here,” said Bryant. “Tops offers not just outstanding food, it is also a true gathering place where people from all walks of life – of all ages – come to enjoy.”

Nurturing the business and allowing it to continue for years to come was the impetus for one of the lead investors, Darrell Horn – a diehard fan of Tops’ barbecue since childhood – to buy the company. His father Ralph Horn is also an investor in the company. Ralph, the retired CEO of First Tennessee, is well known for the award-winning, positive workplace culture he helped build at the bank.

“Tops is very personal to a lot of people around Memphis, and it’s important to us to keep that tradition alive for many years to come,” said Darrell Horn. “Years ago, my grandfather used to drive from Mississippi specifically to eat at Tops Bar-B-Q. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Messick family, George ‘Monty’ Montague and the entire team for making Tops such a special place for so many people. In the coming years, we look forward to bringing Tops Bar-B-Q to a new generation of patrons in the greater Memphis area.”

Tops’ long-standing CEO Monty Montague, who has been with the company for 45 years, was part of the ownership search, looking at potential buyers alongside the trust that held the company after Messick’s passing. The 81-year-old Montague will continue in his current role at Tops and will be joined by Terry Trim as the new President who brings over 30 years of restaurant executive and operating experience. Horn, Salisbury and Bryant will serve on the Tops Bar-B-Q Board.

“One of our goals was to get new ownership that would be a good fit for our company, and we got a good fit,” said Montague. “We want to continue with the same culture and the same delicious barbeque, and do it the way we’ve been doing it for years – the old fashioned way. That’s the successful way.”


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