How do you know your establishment is an institution and not just another place to get a burger? Announce you are closing and watch the line form around the store. Since 1985 Fat Daddy’s has set the standard for great fast food counter service in the area but I am guessing that isn’t why most people were standing in the rain waiting to get one last meal this morning. At least that isn’t why we went. We went to relive a memory from a decade and a half ago when Fat Daddy’s would forever become the “Little Angus Barn” to us.

Back in 1999 I wasn’t the blogging social media mogul I am today and often struggled to make ends meet. (Mogul may not mean what I think it means.) Not being much of a date person and really not having date money I had decided out of character as it was to take my then girlfriend (now wife) out to the Angus Barn for Valentine’s Day. Sure I had to cut a few corners to make it work on my budget but it seemed like a great idea. I even called in advance to learn that on Valentine’s Day they don’t take reservations. Perfect – game plan was set – head over a little early and eat what would probably be the best if not the most expensive meal I would have all year. Dressed and prepped for the occasion we headed out early to snag our table. For someone that doesn’t really plan outings like this I was on top of my game.

And this kids is where you should all learn one important lesson – always have a plan B. My visions of walking into a short line and getting a table were shared by half the population of Raleigh. Name on a list? Done. Three to four hour wait? Ouch. Let’s just say that neither one of us had anticipated this and neither one of us had really eaten much in preparation for the feast to come. We toughed it out for close to two hours when we realized this wasn’t our best plan. Time to leave but leave and go where? This is where you might have a serious problem in 1999 Raleigh that wouldn’t be quite the problem in 2014 Raleigh. At that time we had about a third of the restaurants then that we have now and every other place in town we might want to go to started taking reservations in early January.

We took off down Glenwood and happened upon Fat Daddy’s. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted for that night but the food was good and the line was short and at this point we were both thankful. It wasn’t at all how I wanted this particular Valentine’s Day to work out but it was by far one of the most memorable. Who knows? A lot of things may not have turned out the way they did if it wasn’t for Fat Daddy’s onion rings that night.

I’m glad we got to eat one last meal at a unique piece of Raleigh’s and oddly enough mine and Cara’s history. We will miss you.

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