The Bessingers are the first family of barbeque in South Carolina, known for their legendary mustard-based barbeque sauce, a Carolina classic since the 1930s. By keeping the business in the family and taking a hands-on approach to managing the restaurant, Thomas Bessinger and his sons, Tommy and Michael, have maintained a warm, friendly and relaxed atmosphere that welcomes customers and makes them feel like they're part of the family. That attention to customer service and the best barbeque in the South have made Bessinger's a true legend. As a family, they've preserved the authentic flavor and vision of family patriarch, "Big Joe" Bessinger, and that's what keeps customers coming back time and again.
Tommy Bessinger, Jr.
For native Charlestonian Tommy Bessinger, Jr., barbeque has always been a part of life -- from the time he was a baby eating barbeque in his high chair at the family's home behind the restaurant to his current role as Owner Operator. At 13, Tommy started working for his dad doing an assortment of jobs around Bessinger's, and by the time he was 17, was already managing the restaurant when he was not in school. Besides barbeque, Tommy is passionate about snow skiing, hitting the slopes of West Virginia and Colorado whenever he gets a chance. And, like every Southern boy, he enjoys being around the water and playing golf. Tommy lives West of the Ashley in Charleston and is the proud father of two children, Rian and Drew, who is now part of the management team, following his father's footsteps.
Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., as the youngest of four children, Michael Bessinger was introduced to the barbeque business at an early age. While growing up, Michael often helped his dad, Thomas Bessinger, Sr., fill bottles with the family's renowned mustard-based gold sauce. He became an official member of the Bessinger's BBQ team at 13 when his dad hired him to bus tables and do other odd jobs around the restaurant on his weekends home from Holly Hill Academy, a private school in Holly Hill, S.C. At only 20, he was named one of the restaurant's managers and today is owner of the restaurant with his brother, Tommy. When Michael is not busy in the pits or greeting customers, he loves to be outdoors, whether it be fishing, hunting, golfing or trail riding with his Land Cruiser club. Michael and his wife, Faith, are also active in their church ministry and live with their three children, Taylor Grace, Benjamin, and Oliver in Charleston, West of the Ashley.
Thomas Bessinger, Sr.
Retired Original Founder
Thomas Bessinger, the legend behind Bessinger's BBQ, is a man who believes in the value of hard work. Through his dedication and with help from his two sons, Tommy and Michael, Bessinger's has grown into the successful operation it is today. Born in Orangeburg and raised in Holly Hill, S.C, Thomas started cooking and prepping sandwiches at his dad's restaurant, Eat at Joe's, when he was just 14. He joined the army after high school and spent two years overseas, cooking meals for large groups of soldiers. When discharged, Thomas came to the 'big city' of Charleston where his family had relocated and helped his brother run one of the family's newly-opened Piggy Park barbeque restaurants. In 1960, he decided it was time to open his own place and hence the restaurant that is today Bessinger's BBQ was born. In his 70s now, you can still find Thomas hard at work in the kitchen, making sure Bessinger's continues to serve the best barbeque to the people of Charleston.