Highland Park pastor builds biz with homemade BBQ pits

Drive down Hamilton Avenue in Highland Park and you’ll find Alfred Thomason's little slice of heaven, Rejoice Temple BarBQ Pits.

The 81-year-old Highland Park resident makes barbecue pits from refashioned metal barrels. It's an enterprise that has helped sustain Thomason and his ministry (he is a retired pastor) for several decades now.

"That way I can keep things going," says Thomason. "I don't ask anything from anybody. I do it all myself."

Rejoice Temple BarBQ Pits got its start in 1972 when Thomason's mailman asked if he would sell any of the barbecue pits he had previously made for himself. Thomason's poduct turned out to be a hit. "If I sold one I sold 50 of them," Thomason says. "They sold like hotcakes."

Rejoice Temple BarBQ Pits are fashioned from cleaned and processed 15-, 30-, and 55-gallon metal drums sourced from C-Mar Products located on 22nd Street just south of Michigan Ave in Southwest Detroit. Thomason, whose son and daughter occasionaly lend him a hand, turns each barrel into a custom-made barbecue pit, which sells for between $35 to $85, depending on its size.

Thomason sells about a half dozen barbecue pits each week.

"I used to make as many as 15 a week but I am too old for that now," Thomason says.

People interested in buying a custom barbecue pit can stop by Rejoice Temple BarBQ Pits' well-worn storefront at 16011 Hamilton or call Thomason at (313) 243-4803.

Source: Alfred Thomason, owner of Rejoice Temple BarBQ Pits
Writer: Jon Zemke
Photo: Matthew Bihun

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