O’ My Turkey Leg immediately filled a void in the Birmingham food scene when they heroically emerged in September of 2020 with their unique eating experience. Our city has long been heralded as a foodie’s paradise, but there was a serious lack of options that catered to meats that aren’t beef or pork–and turkey was hardly on anyone’s radar. The Simpkins family wasn’t having that, and came to rescue the good people of the Magic City. What started as a turkey leg trailer is now expanding to a full food truck with a new, more accurate name to entail all that they are. Birmingham, meet O’ My Turkey Leg & More!
“This started by two friends that were kicking back, porch-talking,” Johnny shares. Simpkins had experience in factory work and as a fitness trainer, and was talking with a friend in the restaurant business about the lack of turkey legs in the Magic City. Birminghamians didn’t often see one unless they were going to the fair or out of town. “We said on the weekends we could sell turkey legs,” he explains, “There’s a big market for that.” The plan came around during the first months of the pandemic, when more people were working from home than ever–and still needed ways to eat their lunch and dinner. “It just became very popular to be in the street food market. Street food took off,” Simpkins shares–and O’ My Turkey was ready to jump in.
They chose the name “O’ My” because they want people to know just how good these turkey products are the moment they first lay eyes on the business–and this perfection was no easy task. “Turkey legs are a really hard product to produce, and we knew we had to go with partner companies that had been in the game for a while,” Johnny shares, going on to detail how the road to perfection was filled with many-a-lesson. They knew customers would want the meat to fall off the bone, and started experimenting with the best way to deliver this turkey bone bliss. “We messed up so many different ways, but we learned so many different ways.”
“The support was really what kept us going, and people really just honing in behind us,” Simpkins shares. Their first large support system was at the Movement Fellowship Church with Senior Pastor Kris Erskine “and the support there was unreal.” Johnny would soon become the sole owner of the company, and his wife, mom, and the rest of the Simpkins family were ready to help out in any way they could. The Simpkins would find a city hungry for turkey of all varieties.
When they first started selling turkey, O’ My was only offering Birminghamians their gigantic legs with the classic smoked flavor and garlic-herb seasoning–but the company has always been open to creating new masterpieces to satisfy what their customers are craving. “People are asking for jerk, lemon pepper, hot, cajun, teriyaki. Why not? We didn’t even charge any more. We left the prices the same and said ‘Hey this is a customer thing we’ll do.’” The result is incredible flavors normally saved for chicken wings on top of massive turkey goodness.
“We just kept going, we didn't give up. And it went from there,” Simpkins recollects, “It went from turkey legs on the weekends to turkey legs everyday. And then it went from selling a turkey leg to how many ways can we remix this turkey leg?” The answer to that question was many. Turkey nachos, turkey phillies, turkey sandwiches, turkey wraps (very popular for offices), turkey burgers, turkey BLTs, and more now make for a menu that will make even the largest of turkey skeptic's mouth water in anticipation. They also sell wonderful sides including collard greens, cabbage, and cornbread on Sundays. O’ My’s goal? Serve great food with a great experience.
The turkey sandwich came from a caring couple who wanted to spend a decent amount of money with the truck, but didn’t think they could eat more than one turkey leg. “People are wanting to support each other in a pandemic. You can see it, you can feel it in the atmosphere,” Johnny shares. The Birmingham entrepreneur acted fast and made the couple a pulled turkey sandwich with meat from a leg that made for the perfect meal to walk around a festival with. The Simpkins immediately made the sandwich a regular menu item and it sold like crazy.
Caption: O’ My Turkey Leg & More is ready to give you turkey in whatever form you’d like! All images from O’ My.
“My daughter actually came up with the turkey nachos,” Johnny laughs. The glorious invention happened while the Simpkins family was working a festival in rural Alabama. It can get expensive for food truck owners to feed themselves while serving others, and there’s an understanding that the entrepreneurs have for each other. “We treat each other like family,” Simpkins explains, “I could go to any one of these food trucks out here right now and I could get a meal. And they know they could come to me and get a meal.” On this day Johnny’s six-year-old took some of O’ My’s turkey, put it on chips, went to someone else’s truck to put nacho cheese on it, then borrowed some of her brother’s pico de gallo from his taco order at another truck, and boom–a new customer favorite was born.
The addition of so many new menu items in addition to their famed turkey legs (and the addition of a whole lot of new customers over the last year-and-a-half) means that O’ My Turkey Legs & More needed a bigger truck–which they are currently in the process of creating. This truck will allow the company to really showcase their title as the “king of nachos”. They will be able to display chip and topping options, and bring even more variety of the people of the Magic City. The new and improved truck is expected to be serving the streets of Birmingham by the end of the year.
Johnny says that while the journey to being a successful entrepreneur has been a long one, it’s been more than worthwhile and he’s thankful to live in a city that made the process easier. “That for us was such a great experience to be able to be from Birmingham, a small business, and to be learning,” he shares, “It wasn’t like they just push you off the ledge and go ‘Okay, start your business.’ They’re really trying to make sure small businesses have the blueprint, instead of just winging it. That helps a lot.” He credits the Health Department, Small Business Council, and a six-week program called Ascend Birmingham “that gave you wide-door options on how to handle transactions, how to handle business finances, how to handle taxes, and so many great opportunities” for their roles in his success.
Besides actually taking the time to assist small businesses begin their journey, Johnny sees the city also helping food trucks with the creation of the new City Walk plans that feature a skate park, plenty of walking space, and an entire area dedicated to food trucks. “It just lets us know we’re growing,” he shares, saying it’s cool to see Birmingham rise up to create spaces that have been cherished by larger cities for years.
The food truck owners of the Magic City aren’t taking these opportunities for granted. This entrepreneurial community is coming together to create the best possible atmosphere at the food truck meet-ups and other locations they can be found. This includes quieter generators and DJs playing music throughout the day. “If people are in line and got a little music it creates a little atmosphere. That makes the wait not so bad,” Johnny shares, “This could very well be a date night. This could very well be a meeting place for networking. All summer long. And they’re popping up all over town.” For O’ My, this effort includes little details like calling customers names instead of numbers so they know they are valued on a personal level. “Customer service means everything to us.”
The Simpkins could have never predicted where a conversation about turkey legs could have taken them, but they feel blessed to be where they are. Johnny is a proud Birmingham foodie and remembers his days of chasing trucks like Urban Smoke down for meals before starting his own and becoming a member of this tight-knit community. We’re thankful for the opportunity to #followthatbird to our favorite locations in East Lake, West End, Forrestdale, downtown, Bessemer, and beyond.
“I never imagined this, but I’m grateful for it.”