Zach Parker spent a lot of time at his father’s whole hog barbecue restaurant, Scott’s-Parker’s Barbeque in Lexington, Tennessee. Zach wasn’t just working the cash register. He was learning his father’s trade, first shoveling the pits and then eventually learning how to cook the meat using his father’s techniques. Even at 14 years old, Zach wanted to “keep the tradition alive” and “make his father proud.”
Zach’s father, Ricky, bought Scott’s-Parker’s in 1989 after working there in the early ‘80s. Zach was in the last stretch of EMT school when Ricky died in 2013. Determined to make sure his father’s legacy lived on, Zach dropped out of school to take over the restaurant. Now, as the owner and pitmaster, the younger Parker says he better understands and appreciates his father’s work ethic and the sacrifices he made as a divorced dad, raising two boys while being completely involved in his business. “He took all the stress of it for me, and I never realized how much of it come[s] along with the business,” Parker says.
When his father first died, Parker adamantly wanted to answer “what would dad do in this situation” rather than what he wanted to do. Now, at 25, he’s still understanding what it means to own a business. But while the younger Parker is learning how to forge his own path, he’s also still cooking hickory-smoked, whole hog the same way his father once did.