Last month I wrote about Big Daddy’s at Kure Beach on the corner of K Avenue and Fort Fisher Boulevard. If you look closely you can see that the restaurant was actually two buildings housing a seafood restaurant (behind Tommy Lancaster) and steak house (one story on extreme right) sandwiched together. The family lived upstairs.
In 1963 Tommy Lancaster started out on that corner serving short order food in a much smaller building called the Sea Isle Pavilion. He also had a miniature golf course, an arcade with pool tables and rented motor scooters and bicycles. It quickly became a hangout for local and visiting teenagers. They thought that Tommy resembled the “Big Daddy” character, played by Burl Ives, in the 1958 movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and began calling him by that name. It stuck and he changed the name to Big Daddy’s Pavilion and later it became the name for the new restaurants he built on that same corner.
Tommy Bryant Lancaster was born in Wayne County on June 20, 1918. As a husband and father, he would take his family to Kure Beach for summer vacations and decided to open a business there which grew into Big Daddy’s Restaurant. His son Bryant Fred Lancaster or “Bud” grew up working in the restaurant at Kure Beach. Tommy bought a restaurant at Lake Norman near Mooresville, NC sight unseen in 1974 and named it Big Daddy’s too.
Bud’s son and Tommy’s grandson, Freddie Lancaster, grew up in the Lake Norman restaurant and is the present owner/operator. Freddie is assisted by his wife Susie and two daughters Sarah and Nikki and son-in-law, Marcus Young.
The family sold the Kure Beach Big Daddy’s in 1981 to Doris and Joe Eakes.
Their patriarch, Tommy Lancaster, died March 28, 1995 in Wayne County and is buried in the Pikeville Cemetery.
Many thanks to Nikki Lancaster Young and her dad, Freddie Lancaster, who are my sources for much of the information in this article.