Barry’s Café opened on May the 19th, 1992 with only 50 seats in the Swift Creek Shopping Center of Cary, NC. The owner Barry Doyle had only a couple things in mind and those were to provide the community with a family restaurant that people would think of as their second home, not to overcook the burgers. Barry’s desire was to provide the community with a homemade breakfast and great hamburgers and hot fries. The restaurant’s mission was to make each person happier than when they first came in the door. Barry did this by later learning over 3500 names of his customers. The original hours were from 5:30 am to 3 pm Monday through Saturday.
During the first year and a half, Barry’s Café struggled like so many restaurants. Thank goodness Denise had a job that paid very well. In the winter of 1994 there was a huge ice storm that shut down I-40 and U.S. 1/Hwy 64. The local volunteer fire department, Swift Creek was the first to respond that icy cold and wet morning. Someone called Barry and asked him if he could bring some coffee for the rescue workers. Barry put together a gallon of coffee and ten or so sausage biscuits, thinking that there usually are only around 4 guys working at the station. When Barry arrived there was over 200 people and 3 fire departments on the icy interstate with numerous wrecks, fires and even fatalities. Barry made several more runs with hot coffee and food for the victims as well as the firefighters and law enforcement. He never asked to be paid for his service (he really didn’t know who to ask) he just kept helping the rescue workers and the motorists. Barry said that if the firefighters needed him to just call.
Within the next month Barry’s Café revenue nearly doubled! By the next quarter he was out of the red and well on his way to keeping his restaurant open for the community.
In 1996 Barry’s Café expanded from the original 50 seats to 130 seats. As the café grew so did the calls to help the firefighters in Wake County. Barry decided to set up a not-for-profit organization called Feed the Firefighters Foundation that would provide food and beverage to firefighters and emergency personnel. In 1999 the international trademark was applied for. In March of 2001 a “Mark Date” and on September 11, 2001 the mark was granted. In 2005, Dr. Jack Fritz designed a Rehab Unit utilizing a retired older motor home that became a mobile kitchen, bathroom, and rest area to be set up on site of an emergency to serve the firefighters and rescue workers.
Feed the Firefighters Foundation presently has two other restaurants that are members of the foundation providing food to the men and women who help save our lives and property. They are Assaggio’s in Fuquay Varina, NC and Z Pizza in Atlanta, GA.
In addition to establishing the foundation Barry’s Café has won numerous awards for community service. In 2001 Barry’s Café won Small Business of the Year from the Cary, NC Chamber of Commerce. Also that year Barry’s Café won the Good Neighbor Award through the North Carolina Restaurant Association. Barry’s was recognized by the 343 firefighter families that lost love ones during the attack on the World Trade Center for spearheading the $2 million raised from North Carolina’s Restaurants. In 2008 Barry’s won the National Restaurant Association Good Neighbor Award for community service with a $5000 check to the foundation from American Express. Curtis Media presented Barry Doyle with an award the same year for community service through the foundation. Barry’s Café has also won several Awards and received recognition from clubs such as the Rotary Club of Cary and Swift Creek Exchange Club, The Elks Club. Most of all, Barry’s Café is known in all 50 states and 27 countries as a place that firefighters can come and enjoy family and friends. Barry’s Cafe continues to remain true to its mission, “Make everyone happier than when they first came in.”