Ronnie Warrick was about 9 years old the first time he walked into Scott's Barbecue at 1205 N. William Street.

On Friday he was one of the last customers to say goodbye to owner Martel Scott Jr., 75, as the century-old business, for which the motto is "It's the best ye ever tasted," closed its doors for the final time.

All is not lost, however, for loyalists who've grown accustomed over the years to the signature Scott's taste. Scott's Barbecue Sauce will continue to be made and bottled in the building next to the restaurant.

The three-generation family-owned business traces its roots back to 1917, when Scott's grandfather, Adam Scott, began cooking pigs.

It started as a hobby.

"There got to be such a demand for him to do it, he had to quit his part-time jobs and get into barbecuing," Scott said.

Adam Scott moved away from Goldsboro in the mid-1940s. That is when Scott's father, Martel Scott Sr., took over the business.

It was first located on Gulley Street and then moved to its current North William Street location in the summer of 1951.

Scott, 10 years old at the time, had grown up in the business and learned the secret of barbecuing from his father.

Warrick, of Fremont, is now 58. Yet he still remembers vividly his first trip to the iconic barbecue restaurant.

"I walked in the back door, back yonder," said Warrick. "We washed our hands. We sat in the first table from the booth back there. It was the first restaurant I'd ever eaten, in as far as going out to eat."

He, like so many others, has been a regular ever since.

"What's in that bag right there is what kept me coming back," Warrick said, pointing to a bag of barbecue lying on the counter. "And these people right here. You feel like you are home when you walk in here.

He said Scott's isn't the kind of restaurant where its, "What do you want, here's your food." He said you walk in and they call you by name.

"Or you walk in the door, and it is, 'Hey, you've not been here in a while. What's going on?' It is like they are concerned over their people, not over the cash register."

Warrick said he had not known that Friday was the last day until he overheard someone ask Scott about it.

So when he heard the news, Warrick purchased the last Scott's Barbecue T-shirt hanging on the wall behind the counter. That's where Scott, since taking over the business from his father, could be found each Thursday and Friday.

Warrick decided he was going to have that last T-shirt, regardless of its size.

He made the purchase and left, but was back minutes later so that Scott, waitress Alice Faye Brewington -- she's been with the business 41 years -- and waitress Judy Hughes, who has worked there for nine years, could sign the shirt.

They also signed a paper menu that Warrick said he would have framed for display in his home.

Warrick wasn't by himself -- a steady stream of customers stopped to shake Scott's hand or have a photo made with him and to wish him well.

Scott will now rent the building to Ashley's Diner, which is currently located further up on North William Street.

The business is expected to move in within next couple of weeks, he said.

"I wish I could go on a little bit longer, but there comes a time when you must follow your instincts and do other things," Scott said.

"I have enjoyed it," he said. "But, like I said, if it had not been for these people coming along that needed another place, I'd have stayed on a little bit longer."

Scott didn't have any children who particularly wanted to continue the restaurant portion of the century-old business. He said his oldest son -- named after his father and grandfather -- will keep on running the sauce business.

"Hopefully, that will go on for years to come."

It is the same sauce that Scott's grandfather developed.

Scott's Barbecue has closed once already, back in 2001.

Scott and his sister were going to retire and just do the sauce business because there was such a demand for it.

It did not stay closed for long.

"We decided to retire in June 2001," Scott said. "We had so many phone calls and people saying, 'If you are not to rent or lease it out and nobody takes it, why don't you go in and do a couple of lunch hours sometime during the week?'

"We thought about it and thought about it. Then we said, 'Well, OK. We have that much support and that many people want us.'"

Scott's reopened, after being closed just 13 months, in October of 2002.

"We came back as a fast-food type of carry-out with the foam plates and plastic utensils -- no dishes, no glasses -- everything throw away," he said. "We were just going to do that and see how it goes for a few years and here it is, 15 years later, and we are still trying to do it."

Over that time, Scott has been splitting his time between the restaurant and the sauce business.

His sister died five years ago.

"She always said, 'What are you going to do if I am not here?'" he said. "I said, 'I will just do the best that I can and go on.' So that is what I have done for a few years now."

There are several reasons the business has lasted for a century, he said.

One is that his parents stayed with the business all of the time.

People might have noticed it wasn't something that they created and then let somebody else run it, he said.

"They created it and ran it themselves like they thought it should be run," he said. "That was the way I was brought up. I don't care what you have. If you don't put your personal attention to it, it is not going to be near as good. So that was the way we were raised, to treat our customers just like they were family, basically."

Also, customers are more like friends because the business received tremendous support over the years, he said.

"In the '60s, when we redid this building, people were lined up to get in here almost every day," Scott said,

That was before a lot of the businesses moved to the eastern part of Goldsboro, he said.

"But we did carry out," he said. "We did in-house restaurant business, and we had a delivery business. We had four or five vehicles delivering barbecue all over Goldsboro for years. So it was quite a thriving business at the time. In the '50s, '60s and '70s, we were very busy. It slowed, as I said, when some of the traffic went out to east Goldsboro.

"But we have enjoyed our time here. Our old customers have been very loyal. Even though there are a lot of other eating places, they come back here to let us know that we have been appreciated. That has meant a lot to me. That is why I am still here."

Another reason for the success is that folks in this part of the country have always rather identified with eastern-style barbecue, he said.

"Of course, he (Scott's grandfather) was one of the originators of it, I guess you might say," Scott said.

Over the years -- even before him -- folks liked to cook pigs out over an open pit, and he cooked it in the backyard for a while and used a vinegar-based sauce and people liked the taste of it, Scott said.

"The other thing is that it was done by a family that stayed with it and enjoyed the people that they dealt with," he said. "Like I say, when folks come in and talk with me, they used to do the same thing with my father and my grandfather. So, it wasn't like you were in business and, 'Oh, I don't have time.' We always took the time to talk to anybody who wanted to talk.

"People appreciate that. They appreciate you taking time with them, even if you are busy. That is one thing that helped us, and my mother was the same way. This was like home to her. In fact, she pretty much built this building and designed it, put the colors in it that are in it now."

He added, "But they were more people-friendly than a lot of other places. You don't see that much anymore. You develop a certain relationship with your customers, like they are friends, family, and that's what I think has caused the longevity of this business."

Scott said he might take up golf again, and his wife would like to travel.

"But, right now, I don't have any definite plans."