Guy Cummins, owner of Smokin’ This and That BBQ, says his goal is to do something good for someone every day.

About the only thing bigger than Guy Cummins’ smoker is his heart.

Cummins, owner of Smokin’ This and That BBQ restaurant in Florence, Kentucky, needs a smoker that’s big to cook all the meat that’s eaten at his restaurant and catering business.

“We can smoke a couple thousand pounds at a time on it,” Cummins says of the smoker. His wife, Mandy, calls the smoker that Cummins built with his buddies “Brick and Mortar” because it was needed when the couple opened their restaurant at 10020 Demia Way. “She named it that because we needed a brick and mortars [location] in order to have a legitimate business,” says Cummins.

The genesis of the restaurant started in the couple’s backyard in Hebron. About once a month on the weekends Cummins would use the first smoker he built along with his friends on a $40 budget, nicknamed “Eileen,” to cook meat. He’d then sell his smoked meat to people in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“We started out in the backyard until I found out we needed permits and stuff,” says Cummins. “I didn’t know that.” In the meantime, word quickly spread about how good his food was.

The owner of the former Friendly Market was one of those who heard about him and soon approached Cummins about smoking a hog at the market for a charity event.

Everyone loved it and the owner then asked Cummins to join other vendors at the market in order to attract more customers. Cummins reluctantly agreed. His food operation was so popular that it doubled in size three times at the Friendly Market, he says.

Clearly there was a market for what Cummins was smoking and the award-winning Smokin’ This and That BBQ restaurant opened about 2 1/2 years ago, he says. It’s been a huge success in the community.

The family style restaurant serves barbecue ribs, pulled pork, barbecue tacos (its No. 1 seller), coleslaw, smoked eggs, smoked tater tots, smoked beans, smoked green beans, mac ‘n’ cheese and potato salad along with beers, soft drinks and sweet tea.

And although they’re not on the menu or available at all times, the restaurant also serves chocolate-covered smoked bacon and smoked water to make smoked ice for bourbon.

The secret to the popularity of his smoked meats is the dry rub that Mandy created, says Cummins. He also smokes his meats slowly over a low heat created with a combination of hickory and cherry wood.

Cummins says he doesn’t rely on barbecue sauce to create flavors for his meats. “Sauce is for [those] who can’t make barbecue,” he says. Other barbecue restaurants cook their meat too quickly and use the sauce to make up for the lack of flavor, he says.

One thing that Smokin’ This and That BBQ doesn’t lack is an understanding of how important the community is to everyone. That’s why the restaurant staff is so welcoming of customers.

“You walk in our place and if you don’t feel welcome I’m firing somebody,” he says. “I want people to feel like this is your house to come on in and enjoy.”

That sense of community carries over to caring about others in the community. That means providing free food for funerals, police officers, military members and other events that touch their hearts, says Cummins. “We were $18,000 short of giving away half a million [dollars] worth of food last year,” he says.

The former Marine has an especially soft spot for those in the military and first responders. One of his favorite stories—and Cummins has lots of those—was about the time he wanted to provide food for a woman whose husband was getting ready to deploy overseas.

“She was just short of crying,” he says. So he agreed to provide a meal for everyone attending the going-away party. “I thought I was feeding her family and friends to send the dude off,” he says. It turns out that Cummins provided the food for the soldier’s entire unit.

Once deployed, the soldiers in the Army unit couldn’t stop talking about what Cummins had done for them. The soldier’s wife later came back to the restaurant and told him that the commanding general of the unit called her and wanted her to find out what day would be ideal for flying an American flag on his base in honor of Cummins.

He told her Nov. 10. “That’s the Marine Corps’ birthday,” says Cummins. The flag was flown on that day and it was then framed along with a certificate. “She came in and gave it to me,” he says. “Isn’t that cool?” It is now proudly displayed on the restaurant’s walls.

The importance of helping others, however, wasn’t always Cummins’ top priority. Before he inadvertently got into the restaurant business he had a successful career in the construction management business in Chicago.

“I built skyscrapers for 30 years and all I cared about was being the best, the fastest at what I did,” he says. “And I was.”

But along the way he forgot about what was truly important in life and didn’t care about what was going on around him, says Cummins. “I was an a--hole,” he says.

He suddenly learned what was truly important in life when he was seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident while helping someone along the side of the road. He was unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair for several years, he says. The experience was life changing.

“When you take a guy who can go anywhere in the world any hour of the day, anytime I wanted to go anywhere … and now you’re laying in a wheelchair and bed and you have to ask somebody to wipe your a-- for you,” says Cummins, “it’s humbling.”

So Cummins decided to make a deal with God. If God would let him walk again Cummins promised to do something good for somebody every day.

Once he was able to walk again he has done just that and never broken that promise. Not once.

“I think the thing that scares me the most is I just want to make sure that I live up to my word,” he says.

“I’ve made a deal with God.”

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