The Own Your Own (OYO) Million Dollar Nationwide Restaurant Challenge is excited to announce the 24 Finalists who will be coming to Burgaw, NC this October to compete for the opportunity to own their own restaurant at 106-108 W. Courthouse Avenue.
These finalists, selected from a group of over 500 applicants, represent 10 states and a wide range of concepts. On Saturday, October 21, 2023, the final 24 will face off against each other in a Town Square Cook-off along W. Courthouse Avenue in conjunction with Burgaw’s inaugural Autumn Fest.
Each applicant will have a pop-up kitchen from which to serve a sample size dish that represents their concept. The cook-off will be judged by 200 Burgaw residents and a panel of award-winning judges, including Christi Ferretti of Pine Valley Market, Myra McDuffie of Mema’s Chick’n & Ribs, Keith Rhodes of Catch and Dean Neff of Seabird. Both residents and judges will cast their votes for the entrepreneurs and concepts they believe will be the best fit for Burgaw.
It’s no secret that the American Dream of owning your own business is out of reach for many due to economic barriers. Social entrepreneur and OYO founder, Richard Johnson, is hoping to change that. Own Your Own is designed to give hopeful entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect with investors, open small businesses and help revitalize historic downtowns.
The Town Square cook-off will result in 12 of the finalists being eliminated. The remaining 12 will present business plans, from which 8 will be selected to work shifts in the judge’s restaurants. On Sunday, October 29th two finalists will be given a list of seasonal, local ingredients from which to prepare a three-course meal to the judges, the OYO team, and 50 VIP guests at the Historic Burgaw Train Depot. A winner will be crowned at the end of the evening and handed the keys to their new restaurant space along with a million dollar budget to design and outfit the 2,250-square-foot space.
The restaurant challenge in Burgaw is just the beginning. OYO’s mission is to create a movement that helps revitalize small towns across the country and bring back the belief in the American Dream.
To learn more about the OYO process, the restaurant space, and most importantly, our final 24 applicants, please visit our website where you can find profiles of each of them. See names below.
Below is a list of the THE FINAL 24:
Pilar Beasley, Charlotte, NC
Nathaniel Blanford, Cincinnati, OH
Shawn Buskirk, Holly Ridge, NC
Christopher Carlo, Waterford, MI
Mandy Chow, Wilmington, NC
Matthew Cole, Winterville, NC
Charmaine Lizette Eclarin Devine, Wilmington, NC
Zachary Fabian, Jersey City, NJ
Joe Friday, Toronto, ON Canada
Christopher Gates, Wilmington, NC
Penny Hayes, Myrtle Beach, SC
Brandon Hunsaker, Escondido, CA
Khristen Hunter, Wilmington, NC
Zinyusile Khumbula, New York, NY
John Knox, Maple Hill, NC
Vincent Mangual, Brooklyn, NY
B. Lucas McLawhorn, Wilmington, NC
Katharine Myhand, Rocky Point, NC
Karoline Schwartz, Tabernash, CO
Allan Tijerino, Morristown, TN
Peggy Walker, Fayetteville, NC
Julia Warren, Whiteville, NC
Bart Weber, Hickory, NC
Oscar Zeno, Wilmington, NC