It’s one of those late, possibly drunken nights. As a matter of fact, it’s definitely a drunken night. You’re with the crew and it’s about that time to feed the late night void that is in the pit of your stomach. Your mind is hazy after all of the libations consumed but you know one thing, you want some dank as hell food to munch on after a successful night out on the town with the homies.
Wilmington, NC natives, Mark and Ellis Haroldson, are the creators of the popular restaurant “Munchies:” a restaurant designed to curb even the hungriest of appetites. Co-founder Mark Haroldson is a good friend of mine and graduated from the same university (The University of North Carolina at Wilmington). It’s been such an exciting thing to see the success of this restaurant over the past two years.
Mark was never big into the food industry, which is why it was fascinating to see his transition from college student to co-restaurant owner in the Wilmington area in a matter of years. “It was never necessarily a passion for food that brought my brother and I into the food industry, but rather having an entrepreneurial mindset. While in our final months of college at UNCW, we noticed a need in the late night food market and thought we had the perfect idea to fill it. To be honest, neither of us had ever worked in a restaurant a day in our life until we opened up our own,” Mark explained to me.
The boys knew that full-time office gigs were out of the question for them. From day one, these two set out to turn this idea into a reality. Needless to say, it was grind time for them.”The first night we agreed that we both were going to bypass getting office jobs after college; we immediately developed our menu. Once we had the menu, we had to put together a business plan to secure a loan and simultaneously try and find a location to set up shop.
Little did we know, that would be the easy part. After we locked into the lease and secured financial backing, we had one month to find food distributors, decide on the actual products we wanted to use, price our menu, pick out our POS systems, design the interior of the shop, find workers, deal with the board of health, along with many more tasks.”
Quite the accomplishment for a recent college graduate. There’s no other way to look at it. The brothers were determined to get this restaurant up and running.”Looking back it is unbelievable we were able to accomplish what we did in the 5 months from birth of concept to opening. The way things fell into place, I always say it was meant to be,” Mark told me.What makes the restaurant stand out are the crazy combinations of orders one can create.
The idea for the menu was to host a conglomerate of greasy, delicious and unconventional foods all under one bun (or basket) – irresistible, mouth-watering novelty of food fusions that will surely leave you in a food coma.
“From our restaurant you can order something as simple as a Chicken Caesar wrap to as crazy as a sandwich with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, bacon, jalapeño poppers, gyro burger and fries on it and anything in-between,” said Mark.
“When we decided we wanted to open up Munchies we knew that we wanted to open up a spot that would set us apart from other restaurants and do something completely different from everyone else. This is why we chose to make FAT Sandwiches the focal point of our menu. They are very common in NJ, where we are originally from, but down here they were unheard of. Once we had developed the many different FAT Sandwich combinations, we had the challenge of making the rest of our menu as unique as the sandwiches. Its always fun to sit down and have one of our brain storming sessions and see what new menu items we can develop.”
When Mark described to me how the birth of the restaurant name came about, he knew that the word “munchies” was a done deal for him. “Our name says it all. Whether you get the “munchies” from a long day of studying, late night of partying or just watching sports with your buddies, we have something to satisfy your hunger.”
The brothers next goal is to get the restaurant franchised as they keep growing throughout the Wilmington and UNCW community. “The most fulfilling takeaway thus far has been learning that truly anything is possible with hard work, dedication and belief in yourself,” Mark told me. Righteous.
Mine and Mark’s discussion trailed off to how others could replicate the same success. He emphasized having a passion to accomplish anything you set your mind to and to also never forget your self-worth.”
Just go for it and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise! If my brother and I listened to the countless amount of people who tried to fill our heads with doubt, and still do, we would not be where we are today. But just know that the entrepreneurial life style is far from glamorous and takes an absurd amount of sacrifices, hard work and perseverance to make it a success. Be prepared to have that business become your life!”
As mentioned earlier, Mark and Ellis are only located in the Wilmington, NC area, but when you make that trip out to the beach, be sure to show these local restaurant owners some love and pay them a visit. It’s what your stomach would want you to do.
If local, Munchies delivers too!