Rodney Scott arrives at his namesake restaurant, Rodney Scott's BBQ, in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, at 7:30 a.m. He's road weary from recent TV appearances and traveling between his three restaurants in three different states. On other days, he may have been up all night cooking whole hogs. “When we cook [whole hogs] we're talking about at least 12 hours of cook time. That's half a day! You can get worn out cooking whole hogs every day. That's something you don't hear a lot about.”
Despite the long hours, Scott is quick to tell you that “every day is a good day,” a motto he's become well-known for. As he enters the pit room at the back of the restaurant, his weariness turns to smiles and ease as he greets the members of his crew, who are hard at work. Six cooks hustle around the screened-in bunker burning oak logs in a roaring furnace, shoveling hot coals into concrete pits, and hand-pulling meat from freshly cooked hogs for the day's service. Saturday is their busiest day—customers begin lining up around the corner an hour before the 11 a.m. opening.
Scott makes his way to each of the cooks in the pit, shaking a hand or giving a pat on the back, making small talk about life and discussing the job they're doing. He's a dedicated mentor to his team, sharing the knowledge he's learned over a lifetime of tending barbecue pits. As he observes the action, he wears a look of contemplation, like he's juggling tasks in his mind. When he's satisfied with what he sees, he turns and says proudly, “This is Scott's barbecue.”
Sitting in the dining room beneath a sunstruck disco ball, Scott tells the story of his motto, which is stenciled on the wall behind him in big letters. It stems from a not-so-great day when he was denied a home loan. “I put [the loan officer's] business card on my refrigerator and said to myself, ‘He's not gonna make my day bad. I'm gonna make it good. Every day is a good day.’ After about the first week or so of going out and saying it, I was like, ‘Man, it feels good just to say it.’ And it takes the pressure off.”
It's clear that passion has driven Scott to this point. What he once did of necessity to support the family business has turned into a multirestaurant success story and given him worldwide recognition. If you ask him how he keeps up with the long hours and constantly being on the go, he'll smile and tell you, “I try to sleep on my back and laugh at as many things as I can.”