It’s game time at Hickory Tavern, and amid the clamor of Tar Heel fans cheering and clapping for their favorite team, Brent Wall makes his way around the restaurant fist pumping and hugging patrons.
But Wall isn’t just another fan — he’s the general manager, and few patrons visit the Carrboro restaurant without getting to know him.
“If you haven’t met him, go meet him. He’ll be your best friend in no time,” said Thom Perez, a spokesman for the Hickory Tavern network of 16 restaurants.
Hickory Tavern’s newest location debuted in January, and it’s the most recent restaurant to open in the 300 East Main development in Carrboro.
As the game nears its end, no guest leaves without a personal thank you, high five or hug from their new found friend.
“Pleasing people is intrinsically satisfying,” Wall said. “Making other people happy makes me happy.”
Wall is also a former member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and a UNC alumnus who graduated in 2003 with a degree in political science. As a law school hopeful, he never expected to find himself in the restaurant industry.
“There’s no ‘Groundhog’s Day’ in the restaurant industry,” Wall said, referencing the movie. “Every day is a challenge. Every day is a reward. Every day we miss something, but we learn from it.”
While visiting an Alpha Tau Omega fraternity brother in Los Angeles the year after graduating, Wall got a job at the Beverly Hills, C.A. restaurant The Grill on the Alley.