A new Rock Hill restaurant, Big Boys Country Cooking, has opened

By high noon Monday, several hundred hungry people had packed the tables for Southern home-style country cooking at a new Rock Hill eatery.

Rock Hill’s David Mickel saw a video post on the Rock Hill Eats Facebook page about Big Boys Country Cooking seven months ago, he said, and was ready and waiting. The video showcased trays of hot, steamy food on the buffet at the Big Boys in Clinton, S.C.

“I saw a lot of good food,” he said.

When he read the establishment was opening Monday, he grabbed his lunch buddy Edward Chevere. After loading up on fried chicken, corn, meatloaf and fatback, he said he would be back at least once-a-week.

The Rock Hill restaurant is one of three Big Boys across South Carolina. The Rock Hill site is near the intersection of Heckle Boulevard and Herlong Avenue at the former Jackson’s Cafeteria site.

Charles Massey of Brunswick, Ga., owner of Big Boys, was all smiles Monday, wearing a new red shirt that read “trapping tastebuds.” He never knew he would be serving food, he said, but after cooking in the U.S. Navy onboard the U.S.S. Independence CV-62, “it just blossomed from there.”

Massey said he learned how to cook for very large groups of people. When he makes gravy, one pot can turn into six pots, he said.

“Since I was in the military, I was cooking for a thousand people on a daily basis, so this is nothing for me to cook for a whole bunch of people,” he said. “I cannot cook for two or three people, it won’t happen.”

Massey worked as a manager at Ryan’s Steakhouse and modeled Big Boys after the buffet concept of Ryan’s, he said. He started opening restaurants six years ago and is aiming to turn the eatery into a chain. The 45-year-old’s goal is to open 50 Big Boys by the time he is 55 years old, he said. Rock Hill is his third location.

Massey said he is following DHEC regulations to keep the food safe. Customers are required to wear masks at the buffet line and gloves are available.

“The way I thought about it is, everybody wants to be a big boy, even little kids,” he said. But the name doesn’t mean it’s bad-for-you food, he added.

“I’ve got a ton of healthy food out here and I’ve got a ton of bad food, so you can choose whichever you want to do,” he said. The restaurant offers daily food specials, in addition to the variety of fried fare, vegetables, a salad bar and desserts like cake and ice cream.

Before opening Big Boys, Massey said he had a hard time keeping a job, but not because he didn’t work, he said.

“The problem was when I interviewed, I didn’t like being at the bottom of the food chain, and it seems like a lot of companies want to keep people at the bottom of the food chain,” he said.

He said he is looking for employees who want to grow and be better than they are, who want to pull themselves up by the boot straps.

“I don’t care about your past, all I’m looking for is good people that want to work, that can work and are trying to be better than what they are,” he said. “There’s no way to get where I am trying to get to by holding people down.”

Massey said he chose York County as a location because “God sent me to Rock Hill.”

“I said God, I need another restaurant,” he said. “All I need is a hood and I can do the rest, and that’s all I had when I started off was a hood.”

Call 803-329-3663 for details.

Tracy Kimball is a visual journalist for The Herald, covering York, Chester and Lancaster counties. She joined The Herald in 1999 after graduating from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC and has been with the team for a total of 12 years. Tracy is a photographer and videographer, covering sports, local news and features. She also writes about new businesses and covers the Catawba Indian Nation. She has won various South Carolina Press Association awards for beat reporting, photography and videography.

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