In 2009, Scott Whipper lost his financial management job, bought a hot dog cart for $3,000 and started working a corner in Orangeburg.
The native New Yorker and South Carolina State University graduate did so well that he bought a second cart and set up shop in Columbia’s Five Points. He eventually also acquired a food truck and named it Scott Benny’s, after him and his father, Benjamin “Benny” Whipper, a parole officer in New York.
The two had a dream.
“As soon as he retired in 2016, he was going to move to South Carolina and we were going to open a bricks-and-mortar restaurant,” Scott Whipper said. “He was going to sit at the bar and watch the money.”
But three weeks before Christmas 2014, Benny went into a hospital for an out-patient procedure, lost oxygen to the brain and went into an irreversible coma. Scott and his family had to make the call to take him off life support.
“Forgive me if I get emotional,” he said. “Whenever I talk about it, I relive that moment.”
But his mother Mimi, who taught him to cook, urged Whipper to keep going.
“And now we are here with the bricks and mortar,” he said. “It’s been a long road.”
Scott Benny’s International and American Cuisine opened last month in Blythewood, at 420 McNulty St. Suite I, just off Blythewood Road near Interstate 77.
It’s a family affair, with mother, Mimi, sister Rosetta and other family and friends working there.
True to Whipper’s roots, Scott Benny’s serves America fare, from fully loaded hot dogs (of course) to fried fish and burgers.
But his menu also includes more high-end fare such as Mediterranean mussels, Pad thai and Caribbean island-spiced oxtails with fried plantains.
in addition to the restaurant, Whipper and his staff also operate a concession stand in Bishopville, and his two New York Style hot dog carts and the food truck roam over three states — South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.
And to memorialize his father, Whipper designed a logo for the food truck and now the restaurant.
It features a badge to honor his father’s service in law enforcement, and it is flanked by two winged horses, representing success, wealth and good fortune.
“We put it everywhere,” Whipper said. “We put it on the walls. We put in on the rugs. We put it on the windows. We put it on the food truck.”
Whipper said while his father’s death still weighs heavy on him, he is satisfied with where the road has led him.
“I went from college graduate to selling hot dogs for $20 a day,” he said. “Hard work does pay off. You just have to be persistent.”