Commentary

I miss Fat Daddy’s already

April 19, 2014 

“Say it ain’t so, Joe,” I thought when I heard the news.

But alas, it’s so. Fat Daddy’s in Raleigh has closed. And a favorite outpost in my life is gone after 35 years.

Thousands stood in line during its final week to savor their last Fat Daddy hamburger or other menu favorites.

There was nothing like Fat Daddy’s, located on Glenwood Avenue a stone’s throw from Crabtree Valley Shopping Center.

Where else could you get a deal like this one? For less than four bucks, folks over 55 could enjoy a king-size burger on an in-house baked roll, a choice of french fries or okra, a soft drink and access to a long, loaded salad bar.

It was at Fat Daddy’s that my grandson, then a wee lad, had an infamous meltdown. As customary, after Wade and his two sisters finished their meal, I would march them over to the ice-cream bar for a cone of their favorite flavor.

Wade refused his, for what reason I couldn’t determine. Meanwhile, in a fit of frustration, he threw himself on the floor, kicking his legs in the air and howling at the top of his voice.

“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” I asked his sister, embarrassed by the boy’s performance.

“He wants sprinkles on his cone,” his sister Charlotte replied calmly. After a liberal addition of the candy bits on top of his ice cream, peace prevailed.

Later, I received an email from a fellow who wrote, “You should have jerked up your grandson, taken him outside and warmed his britches.”

Perhaps so, but isn’t it normal to want sprinkles in life when everyone else is receiving sprinkles?

Early in its existence, Fat Daddy’s served breakfast. The day after my daughter’s wedding, several out-of-town friends and kin met there for breakfast.

Seeing one of my nieces sitting smoking a cigarette, I chided, “Lola Ann, are you still smoking those coffin nails?”

A devout Baptist and tee-totaler, she snapped, “I saw you walking around with a wine glass in your hand at the reception yesterday. You should be worrying more about your soul than about my health.”

Fat Daddy’s online patron reviews are high, especially for onion rings, one of its specialties.

One night while visiting the restaurant with another couple, I suggested to the husband, “Tim, why don’t we indulge in some of those great onion rings?”

“Sorry,” he said, “my doc said I can’t have any more onion rings.”

I ordered the onions anyway, and later noticed that my friend kept sampling them.

“Tim, you’re certainly welcome to all the onion rings you want,” I said, “but I thought your doctor said you can’t eat onion rings.”

“He did,” my friend said brightly. “But he said it’s OK to eat them off someone else’s plate.”

Owners said they closed Fat Daddy’s in order to concentrate more on their downtown seafood restaurant, 42nd Street Oyster Bar.

At least one patron is skeptical.

“It’s all Obama’s fault,” said the staunch Republican. “Like many small businesses, the owners probably couldn’t afford the president’s mandated health coverage for its employees.”

“Well,” countered a staunch Democrat, “The president is blamed for everything from dandruff to national disasters, so he might as well be blamed for closing Fat Daddy’s.”

During a recent visit, my daughter was showing off her new iPhone as we drove to Fat Daddy’s for lunch.

She asked for directions to Fat Daddy’s. Instead of complying, the phone reeled off the names of several local weight-reducing salons.

A few days ago, while driving along Glenwood Avenue, I impulsively wheeled in and parked at Fat Daddy’s.

I peered into the empty building’s semi-darkness. I imagined I heard the happy squeals of children and the steady hum of adult conversations.

I imagined I heard the booming voice of Bill Gibbs, the genial, ever-smiling manager, as over the mike he announced, “A.C., your order is ready.”

No need to say it ain’t so, Joe. It’s so. And sadly so.

Snow: 919-836-5636 or asnow@newsobserver.com

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