Family divided by school loyalty at TarPackers Restaurant

SAINT PAULS, NC (WMBF) Tucked away in the small town of Saint Pauls is a little restaurant with a big following.

It's called "TarPackers," and WMBF News Reporter Brandon Herring has a look at it's unique atmosphere, including what's behind that unusual name.

TarPackers restaurant is nestled into downtown Saint Pauls on Broad Street. It's a locals' favorite, and it begs the questions, 'What's with the name?'

The only thing more inviting than the name is the menu, so we want to take you inside and show you what it's all about.

"You're not just a number. You're a person that they love taking care of," smiles TarPackers customer Janet Ridgen.

The warm atmosphere is what has kept Ridgen coming back to the restaurant again and again. It's the kind of place where you're sure to talk to the owners face-to-face every time you visit.

TarPackers owner Phyllis Williams says the keys to success are making it family friendly with consistently good food.

"From our salads, it's not a bagged salad, everything is freshly cut up...Homemade desserts, homemade sauces, homemade dressings," explains Williams.

One of the best kept secrets of the restaurant's kitchen is Miss Barbara and her staff. She's been a part of the TarPackers family for more than a decade.

"You got double mashed potatoes with a hamburger steak," she shouts as orders come in.

A frequent tester of Miss Barbara's food, John Ridgen, says, "Everything iIve had here's been good. Never had anything bad."

Then of course, there's the theme to this restaurant. Everywhere you look there's sports memorabilia from North Carolina's two largest public universities. A family with split loyalties to NC State and UNC Chapel Hill started TarPackers 18 years ago. The current owners are a TarPacker family, too.

"We have a lot of fun on that theme with the memorabilia," laughs owner Bill Williams.

"I'll tell you as a Tar Heel fan and graduate, one of my favorite parts about this restaurant has always been this big photo here in the foyer, obviously showing Michael Jordan in his heyday in Chapel Hill," Bill Williams says. "Then on the other side there's some player from NC State. Who really cares about that?"

So where do the Blue Devils fit in? There's a special place for the Duke fans according to Bill.

"We do get a lot of ribbing from the Duke fans, and there is one Duke flag up on the third floor I believe at the window," he says.

The customer we spoke to didn't really mind the absent Duke memorabilia.

"We'll bring some of our Duke friends here with us. So we try to give them a little hard time about that," admits Janet Ridgen. "They don't have as many things in here about Duke... Good for us."

For the record, there is a photo of Spud Webb for NC State, certainly a great player and a great school.

And the customers at TarPackers are getting used to some new hours as the restaurant is now open for lunch.

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