The rib dinner comes with a quarter rack of ribs, a generous serving of chopped pork, two large servings of side dishes, and a drink. Those ribs are delicious, and you can see the slight red from the smoke has seeped almost all the way through them. They’re tender without falling apart.
The chopped pork is from Boston butts cooked for hours in a wood-fired smoker. It’s delicious without adding a thing, but mustard, tomato or hot vinegar sauces are offered.
For sides, I chose the Cajun pinto beans and sweet potato crunch, and my husband ordered the macaroni and cheese and cole slaw. All were excellent. Other choices are green beans, cucumber salad, potato salad and baked beans. Between the two of us, we had enough food left for another meal.
Bucky’s is one of the restaurants on the South Carolina Barbecue Association’s list of barbecue worth driving 100 miles to eat.
At $9.90, the rib dinner is quite a bargain. So is the pork plate (a big serving of chopped pork with two sides) or the chicken plate (1/2 smoked chicken with two sides), both at $7.
As great as the food is at Bucky’s, the story behind it is even better. Owner Wayne Preston didn’t set out to be a restaurant owner. For 23 years, he owned a woodworking tool business. Then he went broke and was $2 million in debt. Declaring bankruptcy didn’t seem right to him, he said; he felt an obligation to pay off what he owed.
One day, he cooked barbecue and sold it for $5 a plate on the side of Roper Mountain Road, right outside his failed business. That went well, so he kept barbecuing. By early 2000, he had turned part of his building into a small restaurant.
To help dig his way out of debt, he sold his home, motor home and beach home and moved his family into the warehouse building next door, where they lived for seven years.
Today, Bucky’s has four locations in Greenville, but all the barbecue is still cooked at the Roper Mountain Road restaurant. Barbecue experts say that is a good thing for quality consistency.
Preston now calls himself semi-retired, leaving the running of the business up to his son, Zach, and son-in-law, Kelly Shealy. (Shealy, of course, is a well-known name in South Carolina barbecue. He’s from a Leesville family in the business.)
While Preston’s business has been growing, he’s been shrinking for the past year and a half. Since having part of his stomach removed, he’s lost more than 100 pounds.
Preston throws a big July 4th party at the Roper Mountain Road restaurant each year. For 2012, he and his staff cooked 1,600 pounds of pork, 260 racks of ribs, 30 pounds of chicken, 100 pounds of brisket, as well as 300 ears of corn, 60 pounds of sausage and 60 pounds of shrimp for a shrimp boil. It’s quite a deal at $13 for all you can eat, and it’s his way of telling the community how grateful he is for the success of Bucky’s.