“We’re getting great support from the town and the students,” Freeman said.
Mighty J’s is at 707 W. Third St., directly across the street from the UNCP campus.
“We’ve had regular customers from day one,” Kennedy said. “They love the food and the atmosphere.”
Along with the 6 ounce Hawk Burger made with Angus beef, customers can order up sweet potato fries, fried pickles, a Ball Park Hot Dog, Hawk Wings, cheese fries, chicken and steak kabobs and more.
“The business is dedicated to the university and the local citizens around it,” Freeman said. “Our colors — black and gold — and our sign relate to UNCP. We’ve got ‘Go Braves’ on our sign.”
The business duo joined the Pembroke Area Chamber of Commerce, which helped host a grand opening and ribbon cutting this past week.
Mighty J’s serves beer, wine and mixed drinks.
Freeman said the philosophy of the business is “Food first, alcohol second.” Kennedy and Freeman said they are emphasizing responsible drinking, particularly because they cater to the younger crowd.
Five student housing centers are located within walking distance to Mighty J’s.
“I wanted to create the ultimate chill spot, a place where people can hang out and have a good burger,” Freeman said.
The men are trying to keep business local. For instance, the only wine they carry is from Locklear Winery near Maxton. It is a variety of muscadine-based wines, from very dry to sweet.
The idea for the business sprouted in January. The men obtained the building — the old Huddle House — in April, and major renovation work began in July.
Except for the tile flooring, the renovation was accomplished by Freeman and Kennedy, with help from family members — and YouTube.
Freeman said he and his partner had limited construction expertise and often turned to YouTube for instructional videos.
They tore out some of the fixed seating, and worked for more than a month to build, stain and polish a dark-wood countertop bar. They installed four flat-screen TVs, which offer Direct TV sports packages.
The reborn restaurant seats about 66.
Freeman, 28, and Kennedy, 23 met through mutual friends about six years ago.
Both men had high praise for the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship in Pembroke and UNCP’s Regional Center and Small Business and Technology Development Center for help in getting the business launched.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to open here in Pembroke and to be the first,” said Freeman, who was born and raised in Pembroke.
Mighty J’s employs about 15 people.
Lance Tyner is the lead cook on the day shift, and T.J. Ray on the night shift. Henry Craft is also a cook.
The restaurant is open from noon to 10 p.m. Sundays, 11 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Wednesdays, and from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Mighty J’s phone number is (910) 521-8627.