Former millionaire returns to success with Bucky's BBQ - FOX Carolina 21

Former millionaire returns to success with Bucky's BBQ

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Bucky's owner Wayne Preston. (File/FOX Carolina) Bucky's owner Wayne Preston. (File/FOX Carolina)

Bucky's BBQ has become a staple in Greenville, now with four locations. Its owner, Wayne Preston, and his family are doing quite well.

Most people may not realize that this original shop and the warehouse next door used to be a woodworking company before it became Preston's and his family's home.

The Bucky's founder said he got there in the mid 90s after his multi-million dollar tool company went bust. He owed $2 million.

"I wasn't paying attention," said Preston. "I had a house at the beach, I had a house here in town and I spent a lot of time at the beach and a lot of time at the golf course, and I wasn't paying attention to my business."

Instead of filing for bankruptcy, Preston said he sold his houses and moved his family into the warehouse for seven years.

His daughter Stephanie's bedroom is now the room where Bucky's signs are made.

Preston said he first got the idea for BBQ because his dad had owned a meat business when he was a kid. He always liked BBQ and made it for fun. When he needed to pay utility bills at his warehouse-style apartment, he started selling chopped pork on the side of Roper Mountain Road.

Before officially opening the shop in 1999, Preston said hurdles needed to be hopped before Bucky's as we know it could move forward.

"The health department of course said, 'You can't do this.' I said, ‘Well it's either do this or my family's going to be sleeping in a box on the side of the road.' And so, ‘I'm sorry but I'm going to continue,'" Preston said. "They actually came to arrest me for selling BBQ on the side of the road."

That's when he, with four men at his church, asked 60 people Preston knew through life to give him money to help pay for sewer service to the restaurant.

His banker told him that he was crazy because "95 percent of the people fail in the restaurant business." Preston said luckily, "I jumped in it, and it's worked out all right."

Twenty-eight people came through and he scraped enough to legally open for business.

Never expecting to hit rock bottom and resort to smoking ribs and chicken, his staff now cranks out 800 pounds of pork a day.

"Things just fell in place for me," Preston said. "I've been very fortunate."

Preston said this year, Bucky's goal is to grow their catering side of things. He has his hand in projects across the Upstate, helping upstarters like himself get going.

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