Andy’s is back — at least at one location in Goldsboro.
The former Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes and Fries on Spence Avenue returned to its roots Friday, rebranding itself under the original name of Andy’s Cheesesteaks and Cheeseburgers.
The restaurant at 400 N. Spence Ave. was closed Jan. 1 to upgrade the plumbing and remodel.
Jonathan Bond, co-owner of the franchise along with his wife, Jessica, said since the restaurant is considered the original Andy’s, even though it was started in Berkeley Mall in 1991, he wanted to bring back some memories.
“We wanted to make this a throwback to the Andy’s days,” he said. “It’s all about the 1950s and ’60s. We want to give people some nostalgia when they come in.”
Bond and his wife changed the name back to Andy’s in homage of Kenney Moore, founder of the restaurant chain, and his first Andy’s, he said.
The Andy’s restaurant on Spence Avenue employs 35 to 40 workers.
“We really wanted to get a lot of kids in here,” he said. “This is a good first job — not that it’s a bad second job, either — it teaches them how to work and business ethics and how to deal with customers.”
When Andy’s applied for a federal trademark so the chain could expand into other states, it was discovered another restaurant, Andy’s Frozen Custard out of Missouri, had the federal trademark rights to the name Andy’s. But Moore retained the state level trademark rights, which allows the rebranding of the Spence Avenue restaurant.
Andy’s name was changed to Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes and Fries in 2012 because the highway is significant in eastern North Carolina, being near many of the Andy’s restaurant locations and next to the company’s home office in Mount Olive.
Moore was sitting in a back booth of Andy’s Friday during the first day of reopening, with many of his corporate staff sitting at surrounding booths, laughing and talking while eating the iconic burgers.
Moore was only 28 years old when he was fired as a worker at a restaurant and decided to open his own restaurant business.
“I knew I was pretty good at what I was doing for them,” he said. “So, I found a closed store in the Goldsboro mall. I was living in Pink Hill at the time. And I bugged people and bugged people, asking them if they would in-house finance the equipment. They agreed.
“My father-in-law, Jimmy Williams, co-signed all my initial lease. That’s how I got started. I had $500 to my name.”
Moore decided to name his new restaurant Andy’s after his 18-month-old son. Even though he knew how to run the business, it was slow going, he said.
“It did not take off right away,” he said.
Despite a sluggish economy in 1991, Moore opened three more stores that year in Washington, New Bern and Kinston malls hoping he would get more brand recognition for Andy’s. But by the end of the year he was $35,000 behind in paying the food bills for the restaurants, he said.
Moore listened to tapes by motivational speakers who said work hard and be passionate to become successful. But he was doing all he could, at work all day, every day, cooking all the burgers, telling anyone who would listen about Andy’s.
“So, I was passionate and I was $35,000 behind on my food bills,” he said. “Then I was riding home one night, kind of beating myself up mentally, and a voice in my head said, ‘Hey, it’s not about you.’ What do you mean it’s not about me? My feet ache. I’m missing my son. I’m missing my wife. But then I realized it’s not about you. It’s what have you done for others.”
The next day, Moore changed the direction of the company, telling his employees he would help them become owners, make them successful and his franchises, he said.
“Today, I’m proud to say we have helped over 60 former minimum-wage employees own their own restaurants,” Moore said.
Within six months of changing his business model to a franchise, Moore said the chain was operating in the black and has stayed there.
One of those employees who started working at Andy’s when he was 15 years old is now a master franchisee in South Carolina who is poised to build 50 restaurants in that state, Moore said.
Moore’s son is now 29 and helping develop a new model of Andy’s in Ennis, Texas, that will have a traditional drive-through, Moore said.
There are 135 restaurants now in the chain that stretches through 13 states with one in Saudi Arabia, Moore said.
“I still consider this the original,” Moore said as he glanced at an old, red Andy’s pennant on the wall that once hung in the first Andy’s at the mall.
“Even though I started in the mall, I moved here. This actually still has some of my own equipment in it from 1991, and it was used then because I couldn’t afford new equipment. So, it has lasted a long time.”
Dave Thompson, a customer of the original Andy’s, said the rebranded restaurant brings back memories.
“It’s cool,” he said. “It has that retro-look. It brings back a lot of history. It’s back where it started from.”
Thompson is now chief technical officer with the restaurant chain.
Moore, who lives in Mount Olive, said he and all the former employees with him felt a little “warm and fuzzy” when they walked in.
The Spence Avenue restaurant is the only Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes and Fries rebranded back to the original Andy’s Cheesesteaks and Cheeseburgers.
Bond and his wife own three other Hwy 55 restaurants, located in Mount Olive, Mar-Mac and on N.C. 111.