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Bobby’s BBQ: Serving the community, one meal at a time

Octavius “Tay” Nelson learned how to cook from watching YouTube videos. Now, he's got a successful restaurant called Bobby's BBQ.

This post is part of the United States of YouTube series. For more inspiring stories across all 50 states, check out our creator map.

Food and family have always been central to Octavius “Tay” Nelson’s life. From the age of twelve, Nelson worked in restaurants with his dad, washing dishes while his father cooked for the people of Fountain Inn, South Carolina. At home, Nelson savored the gourmet meals his dad prepared for him and his brother. Nelson learned firsthand how food brought people together. Years later, after his father and brother had passed away, Nelson decided to honor their memory by celebrating their shared passion for food.

There was only one problem: Nelson didn’t know how to cook. 

So Nelson turned to YouTube.

Searching for how-to videos on barbecue for beginners, “I ran across this creator, BBQwithFranklin, and he made it simple,” he says.

Nelson followed the instructions in the video and was shocked to see how good his food came out. Even his wife, Sarah — “my biggest critic,” Nelson laughs — was impressed. 

Nelson first launched a line of all-natural seasonings inspired by his father’s recipes, but his real dream was to open a restaurant. 

“So I had to go back to YouTube.” 

Like 6 out of 10 of YouTube users, Nelson uses YouTube to help him fix practical problems — like figuring out how to start a business and run a new BBQ restaurant.”

Like 6 out of 10 of YouTube users1, Nelson uses YouTube to help him fix practical problems — like figuring out how to start a business and run a new BBQ restaurant. He researched everything on YouTube: “what charcoal to use, what smoker should I buy, thermometers...everything.”

As his kitchen skills grew, Nelson opened a catering business, and then, finally, his own restaurant: Bobby’s BBQ. Named after Nelson’s father and brother, Bobby’s BBQ has served award-winning barbecue to eager families since 2018. Since then, Nelson has employed 60 people through his business and over 35,000 people have come from all over the country to sample Nelson’s barbecue, made with his own house-made seasonings. And, he still comes back to YouTube for tips on everything from how to train new hires on how to cook brisket (and all meats!), to how to fix things that break around the restaurant and business-related tips to help keep his restaurant running smoothly.  

“I never could imagine how much cooking could completely change my life,” Nelson says. 

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Bobby’s BBQ has successfully transitioned to takeout only for the time being. This has allowed them to both keep their community fed and their employees employed during this difficult time. 

Check out our video interview with Nelson above to learn more, and be sure to stop by Bobby’s BBQ the next time you’re in Fountain Inn.

1. Oxford Economics: ‘From opportunity to impact: assessing the economic, societal and cultural benefits of YouTube in the US’