Iconic restaurant Captain America’s welcomes a new era - and new leadership
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015
Captain America's Hamburger Heaven, the iconic American-style restaurant that's been on Exchange Street for almost 45 years, is switching hands.
The authentic American force behind the restaurant, North Carolina native Wayne Persinger, is retiring and selling the business to a local family from North Walsham: four brothers who own Lewis Williams (Farming) Limited.
Even though the burger bar has new ownership, Chris and David Williams want to keep the original character of Captain America's the same.
'It's successful because of how it is. A lot of people want to stamp their mark on a place but this is special. If I wanted to buy a restaurant and completely change it then I wouldn't be buying Captain America's,' Chris Williams said.
The brothers - who each have experience running businesses across East Anglia - do have plans for bringing the restaurant back to its glory days, though, and that involves some exciting additions.
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The underused 'speakeasy' bar on the second floor will be transformed into a New York style bar with a wide selection of American craft beers. They've considered buying a food truck and bringing their delicious dishes to festivals across the county. There might even be a 'Wayne burger' in honour of the man who ran the business for decades.
74-year-old Mr Persinger has been at the helm of the family-run business for almost 40 years. He took over for his brother-in-law, Mike Howell, who founded the restaurant in 1972.
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Mr Persinger is glad he can pass on Captain America's to a family who recognises its long history.
'It's a local family that knows about the restaurant and its place in the community. And that is what's important: they know Captain America's well and we've always thought, 'Why fix it if it's not broken?'' he said.
Chris Williams has long been a fan of the restaurant, even before he thought of buying it.
'My brothers and I have been going in since we were children and it's such an iconic place and the opposite of a chain. I actually approached Wayne about four years ago to see if he would sell it. We have a lot of memories there, but this is also a business decision. It's pretty unique, there's nothing else like it,' he said.
Captain America's current general manager, Matt Drew, will stay in his role and so will all members of staff.
Mr Persinger believes the transcendent element of the restaurant through the years comes down to both its eclectic patriotic charm and the friendly staff. Leanne Lim-Walker
'I believe that the success at Captain America's has always been the front-line people. Most businesses might not like to say that, but it's really my staff that make the restaurant successful,' he said.