While many restaurants are struggling during the current pandemic, others like Baby Jacks BBQ have been able to adapt their business models to boost sales.

At the same time, owner Will Clem is growing his other business startup, Memphis Meats, with a focus on developing tissue-engineered meat thanks to $100 million in Series A funding secured earlier this year.

“The pandemic is forcing many businesses to innovate and come up with new ideas,” Clem said. “We’ve always been 90% takeout anyway. Memphis barbecue is about taking a family pack home and eating it around the table. People are still doing that, and they’re actually doing it more than ever.”

He said Baby Jacks sales are actually up over the past month, so much so that he is looking to hire 10 additional people for his two locations. Greatly helping business right now is the company’s shift from traditional catering to partnering with local businesses and hospitals to provide discounted boxed lunches for employees, with free delivery provided.

Recently, Baby Jacks partnered with Millington-based DeliverMe to deliver lunch boxes to Methodist North Hospital, including more than 600 meals delivered over a one-week span.

“The old way, 600 nurses and other hospital personnel would have to come out of their scrubs, get in their car, burn gas to drive to the store and at the cashier they would have to swipe 600 separate credit card transactions,” Clem said. “They got lunch for cheaper, and the hospital is happy because all of the staff took faster lunch breaks and stayed much more productive.”

Clem opened Baby Jack’s BBQ on U.S. 70 in Bartlett more than eight years ago, and he added an Arlington location in 2016. Before starting the company, he worked at Wright Medical, which had recruited him after he completed his doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in tissue engineering.

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