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Big Daddy's closes doors, moves catering to Clarion

Jan. 21, 2004

By Chase Swearingen, reporter

Baylor students will soon notice a change involving one of their favorite dining hot spots. After 11 years of serving the Baylor community, Joe Blanek, owner of Big Daddy's, has decided it's time for a change.

With a slight lull in the economy and a rise in the demand for catering services, Blanek has chosen to end his restaurant business for now and put all of his devotion into his catering business.

'Catering is where the money is,' Blanek said. 'I do not want to leave the Baylor community, I am just wanting to upgrade. Change is good.'

By the end of this week, Big Daddy's will move into its new home inside the Clarion Hotel, where groups can choose to hold events in the Clarion atrium while having in-house catering.

Groups can also plan an event somewhere else and have Big Daddy's bring the catering to them. Blanek hopes to move more into serving the Waco community by broadening his clientele, but he still plans on having much of his business with Baylor and the many organizations on campus.

'Baylor kids have been very good to me,' Blanek said. 'I have really enjoyed working with them.'

Blanek's mother-in-law, Lynn McCracken, more commonly known by Baylor students as 'Gamma,' has been working at the restaurant since it opened.

'My main job was head cashier, but I worked wherever I was needed,' McCracken said.

McCracken said she plans to continue working for Blanek when he moves Big Daddy's to the Clarion to begin his next phase in restauranteering.

For now, Blanek plans to just work with catering, but he plans on soon opening an actual restaurant inside the Clarion after he settles in.

Duble-R Burger, owned by Baylor graduate Perry Weaver, now occupies the building Blanek used to own, and it has just recently opened its doors for business.

The new place will offer much of the same menu of Big Daddy's , such as the vegetarian dishes and salad bar, but it will have a few original choices of its own.

Weaver said he wants to meet the needs of the students and community around Baylor.

To accommodate those needs, the hours for Duble-R Burger are 10:30 to 7:30 p.m. weekdays, and 11 to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

'I hope I can work well with Baylor,' Weaver said. 'I hope I can be of good service to my alma mater.'

Weaver also plans to add a style all his own to his restaurant.

Instead of having the theme of different student organizations shirts, he plans to use old license plates to decorate the walls, an idea he got from local firefighters who gave him some old license plates they'd collected.

'How it goes is, you wreck your car, you bring me the license plate, and I will put it on the wall,' Weaver said.

Weaver hopes to have fun with Duble-R Burger while still providing a great positive experience for his customers.

'If you can't make this fun, then regardless of how much money you make, it is just not worth doing it,' Weaver said.