Pit Master Profile: Ronnie Timmons of Ronnie's Ribs

By:Staff Writer

Date:6/30/2014

One of the most unique things about Ronnie’s Ribs is that it doesn’t serve the typical South Carolina barbecue sauces. Ronnie Timmons’ signature sauce is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Growing up in Florence, Timmons was raised on vinegar and tomato-based sauces. So when he moved to an area within the “Mustard Belt,” he had to figure out a compromise since he didn’t particularly like the taste of most mustard blends. His solution turned out to be one of the most incredible, full-flavored sauces imaginable. You have to taste it again and again just to make sure it really is that good — and it is.

Timmons is the proud owner of Ronnie’s Ribs, a small barbecue establishment that serves up some of the most succulent smoked meat around. Timmons is unique in that his barbecue business is not his full-time job; he’s been working for the railroad for more than 36 years. “I tell everybody it’s a good job, especially young people,” he says of the railroad. And although his refreshing attitude about a hard day’s work and a respectable position on the railroad is impressive to say the least, he’s not shy about his plans for retirement. “I got a vision; I just have to wait five years and ten months,” he says. “If it was just me, I’d do this full time. But I have a good job with benefits I can’t walk away from. I have a family to support.”

Timmons has always enjoyed cooking barbecue. He started when his children were young and his ribs quickly became a family favorite. He began selling them from a tent next to a gas station and he would drive around town taking orders for the weekend. His ribs became so popular that by the time he started to fill the orders, he was close to sold out. But it wasn’t until the owner of the gas station told him he “really had something” that Timmons began to take himself and his barbecue a bit more seriously.

Now he offers a whole menu of barbecued items — ribs, pulled pork and smoked turkey legs — from a building that sits where his tent once did. His pit master, Keith, operates five smokers in the back, and Timmons is very vocal about his deep appreciation for the select few employees that keep Ronnie’s Ribs going. “Keith is just like family. I can’t sit here and tell anyone I could do it without these people,” he says. Timmons’ wife and daughter also run the window with another family friend, Geraldine. And the customers truly get a sense of family in the short time it takes to put in an order. Everyone operates with a bright smile and welcoming attitude; it’s a pleasure to just be around them.

Ronnie’s Ribs is a barbecue must-eat for many reasons, including its unbelievably tasty signature sauce, but Timmons’ refreshing positivity, contagious passion and genuine demeanor remind us that authentic South Carolina barbecue requires one key ingredient above anything else — and that’s a whole lot of heart.

Related Content

Pit Master Profile: Wells Gibson of Farm Boys BBQ
Wells Gibson has been cooking barbecue his whole life; at 12 years old, he was digging pits and smoking hogs with friends. Needless to say, Gibson was born with South Carolina barbecue in his bones.
Pit Master Profile: Robin Hudson of Hudson's Smokehouse
Robin Hudson was selling cars before he started experimenting with his knack for serving up smoked perfection. He opened up a small drive-through window, which eventually grew into the sprawling barbecue palace you see today.
Pit Master Profile: David Hite of Hite's BBQ
Pulling into Hite’s BBQ, there’s no question you’re about to have an authentic South Carolina experience. No frills, no fancy signs — what you see is what you get.

Featured Products

Ronnie's Ribs
Midlands

Elgin

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
When you get to Elgin, just look for the little red building on Main Street and that's where you'll find Ronnie's Ribs. Be prepared to order to-go at the take-out eatery, ...
City of Columbia
Midlands

Columbia

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Columbia combines all the graces of the rich past with the vibrance of the emerging Sun Belt. It's the state capital and home to a major university. One of America's out ...

Featured products and attractions in "Pit Master Profile: Ronnie Timmons of Ronnie's Ribs"

Nearby Attractions

  • {{item.name}}

You might also like:

Oktoberfest Sumter on Main
Midlands

Sumter

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
The Octoberfest Southern Style is an outdoor family oriented festival. The event begins at 5:00 p.m. and offers a variety of activities such as a Bar-B-Que cook-off, car ...
Chitlin Strut
Midlands

Salley

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Thousands are drawn to this community each Saturday after Thanksgiving to celebrate this unusual food item that has been a southern tradition for over 100 years. Activiti ...
Renofest Bluegrass Music Festival
Midlands

Hartsville

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
This three-day festival includes a bluegrass band contest, free bluegrass block party, BBQ fundraiser, workshops, guitar and banjo competitions, an open mic stage, plus p ...
Gaston Collard & BBQ Festival
Midlands

Gaston

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
How do you like your greens? Spicy? With bacon and vinegar? Or with a side of barbecue? If you like collards and barbecue, then this is the festival for you. Celebrate fa ...
Antley's Bar-B-Que
Midlands

Orangeburg

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
There are plenty of seats for you to enjoy a plate or two, or three from the buffet at Antley's. Start with the pit-cooked barbecue, then add as much of the other buffet ...
Creekside Bar-Be-Que
Mountains

Anderson

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
At Creekside, barbecue is slow cooked with hickory and pecan wood. All baskets are served with fries or house-made chips. Plates come with cole slaw, Brunswich stew, bake ...