When longtime Augusta business Fat Man’s moved to its current location at Enterprise Mill, the father-son team who run the business couldn’t have predicted the explosion in growth that happened.
“Since we relocated here in 2009, which that would put us at eight years this past May, we’ve grown exponentially,” said Havird Usry, vice president of operations and development. “To put a number on that, I would say we have grown by about 400 percent over eight years. So it’s pretty cool. We see a little bit of growth every year, as well. Not near as much as those first four or five years, but we still have a good 10 to 20 percent growth rate every year.”
Even though catering has been a part of Fat Man’s since before it moved in 2009, it has become a big focus of the Fat Man’s Mill Café business. Havird and his father, Brad, are carrying on the tradition started by Havird’s grandfather — the original Fat Man — Horace Usry.
“I grew up in Fat Man’s from when it was a restaurant to retail store that was down on Laney Walker, so it’s really all that I’ve known,” Havird said. “Somebody asked me the other day, ‘What other jobs have you had in your life?’ and I said, ‘Well, I used to work some soccer camps when I played soccer in college, but that’s literally it.’ I’ve known Fat Man’s, Fat Man’s and Fat Man’s.
“I mean, it’s been my life and it’s been very cool. It’s crazy how things work out, because when we opened this place, it was literally the year I moved back from college. My dad was like, ‘I’m in kind of a transitional period; do you want to go in with me and do this?’ And we went from a family business where tens of people in the family were involved, to just kind of a father-son combination. And that’s been a cool dynamic. It’s kind of nerve-wracking in the beginning going into business with a family member, just because it could change the dynamic of a relationship, but since me and him have been in business together, it’s been super easy.”
The father-son duo’s catering and events services have been gaining attention — so much that Metro Spirit readers chose Fat Man’s for Metro’s Best Full-Service Caterer for 2017.
Havird is thankful for the support — it’s the same support that has kept Fat Man’s open in Augusta for nearly 70 years. He says the key to Fat Man’s success has been consistency and customer service.
“In food and beverage, there’s no off days,” he said. “You’ve got to come in every day and have that consistency and have that quality of food. And if anything goes wrong, you also have to treat it as an opportunity to make things right with the customer. So, I think those are the two things that kind of put us over the top and have contributed to the success we’ve had.”
Fat Man’s has a wide range of ways to meet the community’s catering needs. There are special events areas on site, but Fat Man’s also is able to serve any location within a 50-mile radius of Fat Man’s Mill Café.
And even though the café itself is especially known for Southern foods, which all are worth trying — from fried chicken to pot roast to squash casserole and sweet potato casserole — Fat Man’s is able to do a wide range of types of food for any catered event.
“I would say our catering menu has somewhat of a Southern spin to it, too, but it’s super eclectic,” Havird said. “We do a lot of wedding stations that’ll be tacos all the way to paella, which we did recently for a wedding. It’s a pretty wide array of things we offer. A lot of different Italian food — people always want pasta stations where we’ve got attendants cooking in front of them. So, we have a wide range as far as the catering goes. We’ve got some great chefs and great wait staff that can attend to those things.”
There are five on-site facilities available for events. The Enterprise Event Center, with a complete catering kitchen, has hosted many weddings, receptions, dinners, meetings, banquets and concerts. The room can hold up to 250 people, with the opportunity to serve 500 people, when incorporating tents in the courtyard space.
The Café Dining Room can hold up to 75 people and is available on weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays. This space is good for sporting events and presentations, with its 52-inch TV that has a USB port.
The Mill Starch Room is similar in size to the dining room. And the Conference Room can seat up to 20 people, with full audio-visual capabilities.
“We offer full-service from bar to buffet service to plated dinners,” Havird said. “You name it, any type of white-linen (to casual) affair, we can handle. I think that’s where we’ve really stepped up our game; that’s what we do really well now. We also offer all those services offsite to all of the venues locally from North Augusta to Aiken to just downtown at Sacred Heart, so we’re all around town, as well.”
Havird said he is glad to be continuing his family’s tradition in serving the Augusta area. He and his father’s new restaurant concept at 1006 and 1008 Broad Street is still upcoming, too.
“My family’s been here a long time; this is home to me and will always be home to me,” he said. “It’s my roots, but it’s also an exciting time to be in Augusta. All the stuff that’s going on — the growth in population, the growth in businesses. It’s just an exciting time, and I think if the last 65 years have kept Fat Man’s going and Augusta’s supported Fat Man’s, I think the next 50 are going to be pretty cool.”
Visit fatmans.com to see the Café menu as well as the catering menus. Fat Man’s Mill Café and events is located at 1450 Greene St., Suite 600, adjacent to Historic Enterprise Mill in Augusta. Call 706-733-1740.