by Ann Hertzler
Doris Eakes worked at Smitty’s for Charles Smith when he purchased the corner where Big Daddy’s is located today. He shortly opened a miniature golf course (a put-putt) on the front part of the lots. Tom Lancaster purchased the corner from the Smith’s, added a small building behind the golf course, rented dune buggies, and sold hot dogs and hamburgers. A little later ice cream and pizza were added.
For the kids, he started an “Open Air” dance hall space out front. The music was loud! Lancaster was his own advertising media, driving his big Cadillac convertible all over the beach with large bull horns mounted on the hood blasting messages for everyone to come to Big Daddy’s for dinner! He tried everything – first a breakfast house, an ice cream store, a full service restaurant with a buffet dining room, then a Steak House. By the early 70’s Lancaster settled on seafood, steaks, and lobster tails.
Of the original 8 or 9 Big Daddy’s across NC and one in SC, there are now only two Big Daddy’s stores – Kure Beach owned by Eakes and one at Lake Norman owned by Fred Lancaster, Tom Lancaster’s grandson.
Both stores serve “Seafood at it’s Best.” Eakes (one of the first radar operators to arrive at the beach in 1965) and Doris (nursing student attending James Walker School of Nursing in 1956) married in December 1956. The Eakes’ purchased the Kure Beach store in 1981. As of 2008 Mr. Gerald Huffman continues to manage Big Daddy’s of Kure Beach, keeping a steady and pleasant staff which is frequented by locals and visitors alike.