Entrepreneurs of North Carolina History Exhibit

NC's Famous Food Entrepreneurs

1915Phillip L. Lance

LanceIt all began in 1913 when Phillip L. Lance, a Charlotte-based food distributor, got stuck with 500 pounds of unwanted raw peanuts. Lance roasted the peanuts in his home and sold them on the streets of Charlotte for a nickel a bag. The home roasted peanuts quickly became popular, and Lance soon started producing peanut butter.

Lance’s son-in-law and business partner, Salem Van Every, joined Lance’s peanut business in 1915, and the two men formally organized the Lance Packing Company. Lance’s wife, Mary, and their two daughters created the first commercially sold peanut butter cracker by spreading Lance peanut butter between two saltine crackers. The company continued to grow even during the peak of the Great Depression, recording its first million-dollar revenue in 1935.

Krispy Kreme1960Vernon Rudolph| Krispy Kreme

The pursuit of the ultimate doughnut began for Vernon Rudolph with "a recipe, a Pontiac, a pack of cigarettes and a dream." He learned the doughnut process from his uncle Ishmael Armstrong.

After four years of hard work, Rudolph moved to Winston-Salem with some friends for a new start. In 1937, the three men began to produce high quality doughnuts from a rented space in town. As the doughnuts' popularity rose, the company began to sell them out of the store. The company's sales exploded, and Rudolph entered into partnerships and franchises with Krispy Kreme.

Today, the delectable doughnuts are sold in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, Wal-Marts and Targets all over the United States.

Hardee's1960Wilbur Hardee | Hardee's Restaurants

With his wife, Wilbur Hardee opened a series of restaurants and inns in North Carolina, including the Do Drop Inn and Port Terminal Inn and the Silo Restaurant.

He studied what the public seemed to respond to the most at existing quick-serve restaurants at the time and an idea formed that would evolve into the first Hardee's restaurant concept.

On September 3, 1960, he opened the first Hardee's location in his hometown of Greenville.

Golden Corral1973James Maynard | Golden Corral

James Maynard, chairman and CEO of the Investors Management Corporation (IMC), is perhaps best known for developing the Golden Corral Family Steak House restaurant chain, an IMC subsidiary. Maynard and business partner Bill Carl wanted to start a restaurant but lacked experience. With guidance from a friend in the steakhouse business, they opened the first Golden Corral in Fayetteville, NC, in 1973. Early setbacks included the tripling of the price of beef in 1973 and President Nixon's price freeze of cattle. The company held on and began to thrive. Today, the chain is known as America's #1 buffet and grill and has over $1.3 billion in sales.

Bojangles1977Jack Folk & Richard Thomas | Bojangle's

When Jack Folk and Richard Thomas started the first Bojangle's restaurant in Charlotte, NC, there vision was to develop "a quick-service restaurant featuring a dinstinctive, spicy flavor profile."