Fulfilling a promise he made to his daughter prior to her tragic death, Andy McEachron has made it a priority over the last three years to generate a fun, down-to-earth atmosphere at MacDaddy’s Car Hop and Diner in Granville.
“It’s been busier than anticipated,” McEachron said. “The car hop is just incredible… I think people have been pent up long enough.”
After closing for structural improvements inside the restaurant before the pandemic began and then closing again for the winter last Nov. 28, McEachron and the Granville community were chomping at the bit to reopen on March 19.
“I’m so blessed in a sense that this place has been so busy,” McEachron said. “I want everyone to come here and have fun.”
Although many think immediately of ice cream and the more than 30 soft-serve and more than 20 hard ice cream choices when they hear the name “MacDaddy’s,” McEachron stressed that he wants the “full-service” aspect of the indoor, outdoor, car-hop and walk-up-window restaurant to be in the minds of anyone who wants to come.
Aiming for Memorial Day weekend, McEachron said he wants to install a bar serving beer and liquor inside for those who want to enjoy an adult beverage with their meal or ice cream. He also finds joy in experimenting, such as creating a 12-inch pizza on a normal or gluten free tortilla shell.
McEachron is eternally grateful for his youngest daughter, Katie’s, involvement at the restaurant. She can be seen going above-and-beyond for her father and holding down the fort, especially in the kitchen as the lead cook, when he’s unable to be there physically.
“When I’m not there, there’s no way this place would be able to run without Katie,” McEachron said.
McEachron would have never purchased the building, which for a long time housed Scalotta’s car hop, and opened MacDaddy’s on July 20, 2018, were it not for a promise he made with his eldest daughter, Shelby, who tragically passed away in a car accident on July 24, 2017.
“I tried convincing her to come home from Georgia Southern while she was in her senior year, so I said to her, ‘what can I do?’ And she said, ‘buy Scarlotta’s’,” McEachron recalled. “And I’m like, ‘are you going to come back and run it for me?’ She says, ‘let me work out there for a couple of years, but if you buy it, you gotta name it MacDaddy’s.’”
McEachron’s prior experience does not include the food industry, but he relies on the energy of his workers and the drive to honor his late daughter’s wishes.
“I’ve known nothing about the restaurant business; I used to own Zappone’s (Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM Granville), it used to be McEachron Chrysler, and I sold out in ‘05 to Jim Zappone.
“Then I’ve been a credit card processor since, so my wife just looked at me and said, ‘you’re going to buy that, aren’t you?’ and I said, ‘yup!’
“What I try to do is I try to listen to everybody,” he said. “Being a coach down at the little league (softball), I listened to what the complaints were. And then, I hire happy, fun people that can work.”
One of those workers who radiates a unique combination of happiness, reliability and confidence is Granville senior Brooke Jurnak, he said. One of McEachron’s former softball players, Jurnak credits her former coach for pushing her to be her best because that rubs off onto her coworkers.
“I feel like I can always go to him for anything,” Jurnak said before making a perfect chocolate-vanilla twist in a cone. “Being like, his lead girl, is rewarding.”
Jurnak said it will be a tough move away from “MacDaddy’s,” her employer for five years, but she will take the advice and lessons learned in Granville and from McEachron with her to Goldboro, North Carolina, following her graduation.
McEachron said his experience as a restaurant owner has been once-in-a-lifetime, with the “ultimate compliment” being his employees having a desire to come to work.
“I’ve never had a more rewarding job,” he said. “It’s not about the money you make. It’s about the service and quality of service you have… I didn’t build it for today, I built it for the future.”
MacDaddy’s is located at 45 Quaker Street, with hours of operation listed as Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.