WATCH: Monica Pearson One on One with Shelley ‘Butch’ Anthony

Father of six talks about his faith, his family ... and his food, which has made him a millionaire
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 8:41 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2022 at 9:18 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - “It’s the rib tips!!”

That’s the phrase Shelly “Butch” Anthony always uses in commercials for his This Is It! Southern Kitchen & BBQ restaurants.

But for this father of six, it’s his faith, his family and his food that have made him successful as a husband, father and entrepreneur.

“Struggling is always a part of an entrepreneur, especially in our community,” Anthony told Monica Pearson. “My father used to always tell me, ‘Son, if you ever do this, understand that the restaurant business is a penny ante business. If you don’t understand how to count pennies, you can never have no dollars in the restaurant business.

“And it is just so much I done been through, trying to get along and trying to expand the business, but God had a plan for me ... I always tell people, God is bigger than any dollar that you could ever make. Whatever you give to him, he going to give back to you.”

Anthony’s parents opened the family’s first restaurant in 1951 in Tampa, Florida, one of the city’s first Black-owned restaurants. That’s where he learned to cook.

“People didn’t have anywhere else to go, so that’s where they used to congregate, Anthony’s Drive In,” he said. “They got so busy, they had to stay open seven days a week.”

In 1976, Anthony moved to Atlanta and one year later, opened his first restaurant, “Butch’s Slide In BBQ.” He sold it in 1980 and three years later, he founded This Is It! Southern Kitchen & Bar-B-Q which, today, has 12 locations around metro Atlanta.

Anthony coined his famous advertising phrase back in the late 80s. “I was trying to come up with an item that would kind of set us apart and I found this meat packing plant in Chicago that would help me design a piece of meat,” he said. “Once we got that piece of meat designed and start using it, people started liking it.”

Like another Atlanta-based restaurant icon, Anthony’s eateries are not open on Sunday. “I promised the Lord in ‘97 if he will make it work, all we would do would be six days so the employees have the opportunity to be with their family and go to church if they desire,” he said.

Anthony’s wife of 39 years, Diane, has been on this journey as well, and made sure all of their children got a taste of the business.

“He’s the type of dad [who] always been the one that tries so hard to do everything he could do in his power to provide for his children,” she said. “He’s a hard-core provider. And I believe to this day, the last thing he thinks about before he goes to bed are his children, and now his grandchildren. And just when you think about him, when the kids were growing up, he put them to work in the business, but you were working in the business, too. And this is a family operation.”

Telley Anthony is vice president and director of operations, while Nina Anthony is a corporate trainer; Tina Denise Anthony is COO and Shelley “Butch” Anthony IV is junior vice president.

“I was brought up working in a restaurant, and I wanted them [to know] how to work,” Anthony said. “If you’re lazy, you can’t survive. Working in the restaurant will teach you a work ethic. When they get to a certain age, when they get 18 and get out of school, they make a choice as to what they want to do.”

Monica Pearson’s Fathers Day profiles

Monica Pearson: One on One is a new, interview-themed series featuring the legendary Atlanta journalist.