In addition to his Southern barbecue delicacies, Alex Cooks, Sr. — the proprietor of Alex's Southern Style BBQ who died suddenly this morning — served the region through his local nonprofit Alex's Xmas for Kids, providing bicycles to underprivileged kids in Tampa on Christmas Day.
The restaurant revealed the news in a statement Wednesday: "It is with great sorrow that Alex's Southern Style BBQ announces the sudden death of its proprietor, Alex Cooks, Sr."
Cooks, a native of Mobile, Alabama, established his 'cue joint at 5362 W. Village Drive in 1994 alongside business partner James "Jimbo" Coates. Cooks's charity, which has donated more than 20,000 new bikes, was founded five years later.
Slow cooked atop an open wood-burning fire pit, the barbecue incorporates a signature sauce celebrated by folks who've tasted it, though Cooks was secretive about its ingredients to those outside the family. All of his sons got involved with the restaurant, and Jorden Cooks, the second oldest, remains a part of the day-to-day operations.
Cooks is survived by his wife, Aimee, his four sons, Alex Jr., Jorden, Chazz and Dwayne, and his grandson Jorden Jr.
The family has asked for online donations to Alex's Xmas for Kids instead of flowers.