BURGAW — After a 22-year career as a teacher, Jay Kranchalk never expected to enter the restaurant industry.
But when entrepreneur Richard Johnson approached him to be a part of his Burgaw Now project, aimed at investing in businesses to revitalize Burgaw’s historic town square, Kranchalk jumped at the opportunity. He had taught and coached each of Johnson’s four daughters at Cape Fear Academy in Wilmington, and knew enough of the former internet CEO’s storied business background to take him up on an investment offer.
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“He’s been great as far as being the spearhead behind the whole thing and giving people like me an opportunity that I probably couldn’t get anywhere else,” Kranchalk said. “He’s got this phenomenal business mind, and he just sees opportunities most of us don’t, so I’m taking every ounce of advice I can get from him.”
Kranchalk said a key piece of Johnson’s plan was to give people a convenient and affordable pizza option in downtown Burgaw, and to meet a growing demand in surrounding areas like Rocky Point.
“From all the feedback that we’ve gotten and everything that we’ve heard from people in that area, there’s a desperate need for a good pizza place [in Burgaw], and we’re hoping to give it to them,” Kranchalk said.
With developable land in New Hanover County becoming increasingly scarce, Kranchalk believes the natural progression is for growth to head north on I-40. Because of Johnson’s vision and willingness to invest, he thinks Burgaw is “really a place that’s primed to explode, now that there’s someone to give it that little jump.”
“This Burgaw Now [project] is his legacy. He wants to be the guy who really invests in Burgaw and makes it into a thriving community,” Kranchalk said.
Kranchalk expects to open Fat Daddy’s Pizza, located at 103 W. Fremont Street next to Brown Dog Coffee Company, by January 1, 2020.
Keeping it simple: pizzas by the slice
Kranchalk said that he’s learning the secrets of making New York-style pizza from his friend, Drake Norris, who runs Vito’s Pizzeria in Wrightsville Beach.
“For the most part we’re gonna be a basic couple-slices-and-a-soda type place,” Kranchalk said, noting that he’ll also serve salads and oven-baked sandwiches.
Once he gets familiar with developing certain routines and systems to make good pizza, he’ll look to start offering other Italian staples like calzones, strombolis, and garlic knots.
For now he expects to be opened from 11 a.m. to 9 pm. seven days a week, perhaps later on weekend nights if necessary, with options to dine-in, take-out, or delivery.
As for the name of the restaurant, he said it comes from a nickname he hopes to be referred to by his future grandchildren.
“Years ago, we were sitting around the dinner table and joking about getting fat in middle-age,” Kranchalk said. “I embraced it and said that someday I wanted that to be my grandpa name, Fat Daddy.”
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