Robert “Bobby” E. Williams, Chair of Lizard’s Thicket, the 41-year-old, family-owned and operated restaurant specializing in traditional Southern fare with 15 locations in South Carolina, was awarded the Order of the Palmetto on Wednesday, May 2. The Honorable Henry D. McMaster, governor of South Carolina, presented Williams with The Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor, at a special ceremony at Terra in West Columbia.
The Order of the Palmetto recognizes a person’s lifetime achievements and contributions to the State of South Carolina. Williams was nominated by Rep. Beth Bernstein and notable South Carolinians, including John Durst, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rep. Chip Huggins, Harris Pastides and Rep. Joe Wilson, wrote letters in support of Williams’s nomination.
Those that nominated Williams mentioned his support of non-profit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of families and children, including Carolina Children’s Home, Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter, Special Olympics and Epworth Children’s Home, among others. They noted his efforts to serve others in times of crisis through offering home-cooked meals to those in need whether during a recession or flood.
Nominators also mentioned his leadership in the restaurant industry, most notably as serving three terms as voting director of the National Restaurant Association and his election to director emeritus by the organization. They noted Williams’s efforts to employ people with disabilities as part of Lizard’s Thicket workforce of more than 700. Finally, everyone that nominated Williams mentioned his complete dedication to his family as a husband, father and grandfather as well as his membership at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
“This is this highest honor the state can give. This is a recognition that is not sought by anyone, you can’t apply for it, but others have to recommend you for it. It is a rigorous process. And Bobby Williams has a lot of friends in South Carolina, and they think highly of him,” said Governor McMaster, as he presented the Order of the Palmetto to Williams.
In addition to his significant service to a variety of communities, as chair of Lizard’s Thicket, a 41-year-old restaurant with 15 locations in South Carolina, Williams leads his family-owned company, which serves 4.6 million customers each year.
Lizard’s Thicket, a family-owned and operated country cooking restaurant specializing in authentic regional Southern home cooking at reasonable prices, was first opened by Bob and Anna Williams in Columbia, S.C. in 1977. The business has grown to a multi-unit operation with 800 employees including Bob and Anna’s children and grandchildren.