About a year ago, Octavius Nelson was talking on his cellphone while working inside the pit room of Bobby’s BBQ, the restaurant he and his wife own in Fountain Inn. But he wasn’t quite sure who it was on the phone. It’d been a random number that had called, and with the phone pressed between his shoulder and ear as he bent over the fires, he kept having trouble hearing much. At that moment his wife, Sarah, walked in, and he passed the phone off to her.
“She was gone for what felt like an hour,” Octavius said. “When Sarah came back out of the office, the look on her face? I knew something had happened.”
What happened was strange enough to get Octavius, normally obsessive over his work, to actually stop, stand still and ask his wife to repeat herself.
Had she said YouTube? Like, the YouTube?
“I didn’t believe it at first,” he said, “but turns out it was the real deal.”
Octavius and Sarah still aren’t exactly sure how it was that representatives from YouTube, the second-largest social media platform in the world, heard about their little barbecue spot in South Carolina.
But somehow, they had, and now they wanted to know if the Nelsons would be interested in shooting a commercial.
The story that caught the attention of YouTube began decades earlier, with little Octavius working at his father’s hip in restaurants in Fountain Inn. As he grew older, though, Octavius drifted away from the restaurant world, ultimately landing a job with GE, where he began climbing the corporate ladder.
But then, in the span of just about one year from 2008 to 2009, Octavius lost both his father, Bobby Sr., and his brother, Bobby Jr.
“My brother was just 33 years old, my pops 55 — too young, way too young,” Octavius said. “I know God carried me through that trying moment.”
What also carried him through, he said, was a desire to honor their memory.
Years later, Octavius began watching YouTube videos to learn how to make barbecue, and to his surprise he wasn’t half bad. Even Sarah, who he calls “his biggest critic,” said he had a knack for it.
“I won’t eat anyone’s barbecue other than his,” Sarah said.
After serving his friends and neighbors, he heard enough positive feedback that he decided to use his YouTube-garnered skills to open a place of his own, and he named it Bobby’s BBQ, in honor of his father and brother.
Then YouTube came calling, and once the arrangements were made, a film crew showed up at the Nelsons’ house.
“The real deal: makeup artists, camera equipment, cameras everywhere,” Octavius said.
“There were about 15 people in our living room at once, all focusing on us,” Sarah said. “It was like rock star status.”
Now that the commercial has been released, it’s already racked up more than 60,000 views.
But both Octavius and Sarah said they just hope others see the positivity in what happened to them.
“I always liked to say, keep doing what you’re doing as well as you can, and people will eventually find you,” Octavius said. “I can say for sure now that it’s true.”
Find out more at eatbobbys.com.