Joyner's Funeral Home owner Dell Joyner shows off a photograph Tuesday of his son happily wearing a Parker's Barbecue hat to restaurant co-owner Donald Williams and longtime employee Jane Rose. The trio of restaurant owners were honored with the the 2017 Chamber Small Business Leaders of the Year award at the Small Business Banquet.
Brie Handgraaf | Times
By Brie Handgraaf
Times Staff Writer
Three legends in the realm of eastern North Carolina barbecue were recognized Tuesday by their peers as the 2017 Small Business Leaders of the Year through the Wilson Chamber of Commerce.
“We are here to honor three of the most philanthropic individuals and people who embody Small Business Month: Kevin Lamm, Eric Lippard and Donald Williams,” said Buzz Wilkinson with Cornerstone Bank. “Wilson wouldn’t be Wilson without you.”
While the trio don’t date back to Parker Barbecue’s opening in 1946, they have been a part of the iconic restaurant on U.S. 301 for more than a century collectively. Williams joined the staff in 1963 as a waiter before heading into the kitchen to cook ‘cue alongside one of the original owners, Ralph Parker. He stepped into an ownership role in 1987, eventually bringing Lamm and Lippard along for the ride. Lippard started working in the kitchen in his twenties while Lamm started in 1985.
“I started working in the kitchen fixing the tea,” Lamm said. “I was kind of small, so they had to put me on a milk crate so I could reach the ice.”
BB&T area executive Joey Lamm was among the speakers who highlighted the impact the trio has had on Wilson, but the family restaurant also was where he clocked in when he was a teenager. As Lamm’s cousin, he was dubbed “tea man” before age 15 and followed in his relative’s tea-brewing footsteps.
Others highlighted the contributions Parker’s leaders have made to community organizations. E.D. Hall of Wedgewood Golf Course said Parker’s also chips in with a team, sponsorship or donations of food for charitable golf tournaments.
“Giving back is what we love to do,” Lippard said. “It makes us happy to give back.”
Lamm said the trio recognizes the loyal customer base has made them successful — something they don’t take for granted.
“This honor is appropriate because these guys truly are deserving of the recognition,” said chamber President Ryan Simons. “We’re glad we can play a role in it, but this pales in comparison to what they do for the community.”
Linwood Scott of Scott Farms said the philanthropic efforts reflect the character of the men.
“We’d all like to have the secret recipe for their barbecue and fried chicken, but also for their character,” Scott said. “They remain humble and take pride in serving the general public as much as serving high-profile college coaches and public figures.
“When someone in the community is in need, the men and women of Parker’s are there. They are synonymous with great barbecue, but also high character, community support and generosity. Wilson is a better place because of Parker’s Barbecue.”
For more information on the chamber or Small Business Month events, visit www.wilsonncchamber.com.