Francar’s Restaurant in Mercer Village has been a staple in the Mercer Community for years, but not many students know the man behind the popular wingstop. Carl Fambro started the business over 25 years ago.
Growing up in Macon his whole life, Fambro attended Central High School before going to Mercer University on an ROTC scholarship. He graduated in 1978 with a degree in Biology.
“I had a scholarship and you have to have a major other than ROTC. So the science building was right there, the ROTC building was right next to it so I figured ‘why not.’ I ended up loving it,” Fambro said.
After graduation, Fambro entered the Army as a Second Lieutenant. From there, he traveled all over the country stationed at different bases and was deployed to countries like Panama and Egypt.
“I was deployed to Egypt during Desert Storm but we didn’t get to do anything. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere,” Fambro said. “Now I look back on it and I know I was fortunate because it was not pleasant.”
After 13 years, he decided to leave the Army and come back home to Macon, Ga. Fambro noted that he still isn’t quite sure why he decided to come back but he is happy he did.
“I have lived in Macon all my life except for the time I was in the service. I was born here, raised here and then came back,” Fambro said.
After his time in service, Fambro knew he wanted to work for himself. So upon his return, he opened his own restaurant.
At its original location on Log Cabin Drive, Francar’s first opened its doors in 1993. They served chicken wings, fries and okra and not much else.
“At that time, there were no wing restaurants in Macon. Wings were easy to do and were popular. It took some time but we did it,” Fambro said.
But despite the limited menu and distance from campus, Mercer students were some of his most loyal customers and in 2009, they even convinced him to move.
“Some of the students then were customers and they came in and talked to us about moving because they saw this vision about making Mercer Village and they wanted us to be part of it,” Fambro said.
Once they were close to campus, Francar’s business only increased and Fambro was once again a part of the Mercer community, despite all of the changes it had undergone since his time here.
“Students then are not like students now, we were a [mostly] white [school], we were not really active, we weren’t in politics,” Fambro said. “But the students now are really active….I’m out here trying to keep up with you.”
Fambro now has several students who work for him in his restaurant and several more who run all of his social media accounts. He is happy to announce that they now have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Although he isn’t too sure about a Snapchat, some of the students who work for him are still pushing.
“It keeps me young seeing you guys come through and talking to you,” Fambro said.