One of Sanford’s longest-running burger dynasties a new leader.
35-year-old Mark Barbour of Sanford purchased Big T’s Restaurant last week from second-generation owner T.C. Carter, but says he doesn’t expect to make any major changes.
“I’m kind of stepping into (Carter’s) life,” said Barbour, who has been working in restaurants in Sanford and the Triangle since he was a teenager. “He was ready to retire, and his kids didn’t really have any interest in taking it over, so I had the opportunity to come in a few months ago and kind of learn the ropes.”
Carter said Big T’s has been open at 508 Wicker Street in downtown Sanford since 1986, but the restaurant’s legacy stretches back even further. His father opened the Burger Palace in a now-demolished building near the Lee County Courthouse on Horner Boulevard back in the 1960’s, where it operated for several years. It was in 1986 that he opened Big T’s at its current location, which Carter took over in the mid 90’s.
“I have mixed emotions because I would have loved to keep it in the family, but it’s been good to have the transition period. I know it’ll be in good hands with Mark,” said Carter, who’s still on the grounds fairly regularly. “The staff here is like a family. You have to be, to work in close quarters like this.”
Barbour said he’s been amazed in recent months at the way the staff knows its clientele.
“This place is built on regulars,” he said. “On an average day we’ll have 300 people walk through the door, and the staff knows probably 60 percent of the people, and knows them well. People have been coming here for 30 years.”
That’s a big part of the reason Barbour doesn’t have any major changes in mind as he takes the reigns.
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “I might add a couple things here and there down the line, but I don’t see getting rid of anything.”