Before he died, Derek Oliverio dreamed of a restaurant where every menu item is a work of art and the dining area is a supportive environment shared by a community.
He called that dream Sup Dogs, and the newsest location will open on Franklin Street in March.
The 107 E. Franklin St. location — the former home of longtime favorite Pepper’s Pizza until March 2013 — is undergoing renovations.
Sup Dogs serves specialty hotdogs and is known in its hometown of Greenville for its Sup Dog sauce.
Derek Oliverio came up with the idea for the restaurant while in business school at James Madison University.
In 2008, he found a location for Sup Dogs near East Carolina University, where his sister was studying.
“Since he was 19 years old, there was no doubt what Derek wanted to do with his life — it was creating Sup Dogs,” said his brother Bret Oliverio.
Two years ago, Derek Oliverio tragically died in a house fire in Greenville.
In the days following his death, his family rallied to make sure the restaurant would stay alive.
Sup Dogs was closed for one day in Derek’s honor, before it was taken over by Bret Oliverio and his wife Jenny.
Bret and Jenny left successful careers in Washington, D.C. — Bret as the executive producer and on-air broadcaster on a sports radio channel and Jenny selling online home school curricula — to learn the business of Sup Dogs from scratch and keep up with its growing demand.
“Sup Dogs has made us work much harder than we ever expected, but it’s been rewarding to work for ourselves and for our family,” he said. “I know my brother is proud of everything we have done since he passed away.”
Their other brother, Gabe Oliverio Jr.,said Derek and Bret approached the business from different angles, which led to the restaurant’s success.
“Derek’s best assets were his creativity and inventiveness,” he said. “Bret’s best asset is his business pragmatism.”
He said Derek and Bret had two things in common — an obsession over every detail of the business, and a desire to expand.
Before he died, Derek took a few trips to downtown Chapel Hill to scout the area for potential business locations.
“Chapel Hill always seemed like the natural next step for Sup Dogs,” Bret said. “Derek wanted the restaurant to be as big as possible, and we are excited to be a part of such an amazing University and downtown community.”
Derek’s father Gabe Oliverio Sr. said Derek’s legacy lives on through Sup Dogs.
“Bret and Jenny have done a great job with expanding Sup Dogs. Like I always say, I’m proud to be their pops,” he said.
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