By Beth Lawrence
There’s a new king in town, sort of. The Burger King on N.C. 107 is under new ownership.
After 34 years owning and operating Burger King franchises, Mike Lackey decided it was time to move to the next phase of his life. So he put his Sylva and Bryson City stores up for sale.
“The purpose of working is to get to where you can enjoy life, and it was time for me to step aside and put my health above the restaurant,” Lackey said.
Lackey opened his first franchise in Cherokee in 1985. He was part owner with Osley Saunooke and Bob Furman.
Lackey worked in the tribal business development office from 1976 to 1984. Furman was the owner of a Florida Burger King franchise, hoping to expand his holdings. Saunooke and Furman needed a partner and reached out to Lackey.
Lackey sold his interest in the Cherokee store in 1989. He and Saunooke opened the Sylva location in 1987. He later bought Saunooke out of the Sylva location in 1990 and opened the Bryson City store in 2000.
In that time he has developed relationships with his employees and regular customers.
“It’s bittersweet,” Lackey said. “I’ll miss the interaction with my customers and team members. Several of them have been with me over 30 years.”
Even so, he is ready for what retirement brings. Lackey and his wife, Connie, want to focus on family.
“It’s just time for me to move on,” he said. “My wife and I have six grandchildren now, and it’s time to go play with the grandkids.”
The couple also want to travel. Their first trip was to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida.
Lackey was raised in Lincoln County and moved to Jackson County to attend Western Carolina University. After graduation he stayed in the area. He served in the National Guard in Sylva for seven years. After serving he returned to WCU and graduated with a master of business administration in 1976.
He is grateful to the people of Jackson County.
“I’d like to thank the people of Jackson County for supporting the restaurant and the past and present restaurant employees,” Lackey said. “You don’t build a business by yourself. You build it with other people.”
New owners plan upgrades
Bruce Daniels purchased the franchise. He owns Carolina Franchise Holdings NOVO Holdings LLC of Greenville, South Carolina.
Daniels was already the owner of nine Burger King franchises in South Carolina and Georgia.
“We’ve wanted to grow into North Carolina for some time now, and through the franchisee network, we were made aware that Mike Lackey was interested in retiring from Burger King ownership,” said Benjamin Fleming, CFH marketing director. “It was well known that Mike maintained great operations of his two locations, with robust traffic and sales.”
As with most new acquisitions, CFH has plans for some upgrades.
The company plans to modernize and digitize operations at the stores and possibly put in double drive-thru lanes to increase efficiency. They also remodel and update the interior and exterior of the stores with updated cushioned seating and tables, new front counters, landscaping, walls, artwork and more.
“Outside, walls will receive a nichiha wood paneling for a warmer, newer look,” Fleming said. “Inside will receive granite, wood, new tiles, etc.”