The Campton Restaurant has served up home-cooked style meals since it first opened in 1986, an offshoot of the gas station and general store originally there for decades that slowly overwhelmed it all to become the primary business in the small community, its major landmark along the highway that drew people to stop and eat in tiny Campton.
For all those years since the restaurant first started serving Southern cuisine, from fried pork chops and cornbread to seasoned vegetables and giant glasses of sweet tea, the eatery has been owned by Leonard “Junior” Parker and his wife, Cunoy, daughter of the original owners who can point to photographs of the wall of her pumping gas at the old filling station her parents owned on the site.
This year, however, the Parkers decided it was time to get out of the restaurant business and the pair handed over the reins of the eatery to their grandson, Josh Parker, who already worked selling real estate and used automobiles before taking over the family eatery.
“This place has been the center of my universe since I was a kid,” Josh said. “I had birthdays here, graduation parties here, this was my first job. I made a lot of friends here. Ate a lot of meals here, too.”
On Thursday, Parker decided to honor not only his grandparents, but all those who over the years helped make the Campton Restaurant a success, including longtimer server Teresa “Doodle” Peters, hostess Renee Lewis and family members and frequent employees Jamie Palmer and his mother, Susan Parker.
“You can’t do it yourself,” Parker said. “We have a great team here, a real family who keeps this place going.”
Parker said it all goes back to his grandparents, though, the trail they blazed for him to follow.
“They’ve been a great example to me,” Parker said. “They are dedicated to this community and this business. They mean so much to me.”
Parker said he hopes he can live up to their example.
“My grandfather is a very smart man,” Parker said.
“He knew exactly when to get out of the restaurant business when he turned it over to me in January this year. Not sure what that says about me, that I decided to get into the restaurant business this year.”
Jokes aside, though, Parker said he hopes to continue the hard work of keeping the restaurant going and his family legacy strong right there in little ol’ Campton.
“It’s been a learning experience for me,” Parker said. “It’s a great opportunity to carry on the family legacy here.”