(WLOS) The dining area at Dreadlife Kitchen looks much different than it should at 11:30 AM on a Friday. Chairs are stacked up, tables flipped over, and the only food being served comes in Styrofoam boxes. "it's cut all sales in, all the way in half," vented owner Raynard Walker, referring to the mandated changes for restaurants in the face of the threat of COVID-19.
Don't be confused, Walker understands the situation. Also don't underestimate his ability to overcome the challenge. "I've pretty much dealt with worse in life, so I take it pretty much every day," he sighed. "I mean, everything could be taken away from us, but at least we still got what we got right now."
Walker has a pretty good set of hands to help him out. His son, Tykel Landrum, helps him out from time to time when he's home from school. Before he was slinging wings, the specialty at Dreadlife, Landrum was hauling in passes for the Hendersonville Bearcats. He broke every career Western North Carolina receiving record.
After committing to and playing for Wingate University for two years, Landrum has transferred to Western Carolina. He plans to walk-on the football team, currently working in the slot position. "I'm trying to like stay focused and stay on my grind as we were in school," explained Landrum, who is home because WCU has canceled on-campus classes due to the Corona Virus. "Just transferring over, you know, we've been working a lot. I want the coaches to notice me a lot."
How Walker and Landrum got to this point is an amazing journey. Walker's first son was born when he was fifteen years old.
"I couldn't do anything but suck it up and go with it! I mean, you know, I was a child with a child," laughed Walker before taking a serious tone. "I didn't grow up with my dad. So basically I was going to be the best dad that I could be to my boys."
Walker now has two sons, the younger of which is in his early teens. However, raising Landrum was less a challenge than a blessing. "I used to be in a lot of trouble when I was young," explained Walker. "He [Landrum] kind of straightened me out, you know? Sit at the house, we took time out in the yard and played football in the yard and that paid off. Hours and hours we just connected like that. He's just always been there for me, man."
Likewise, Walker has always been there for his son. He was impossible to miss on the sidelines every Friday night, a loud and proud dad of a budding star. He boasts about never missing a game, from youth ball through high school.
"It was awesome, man," smiled Landrum. "It's like he's more of a brother to me than my dad because we're so close in age he's helped me out along the way."
Now, they're helping each other overcome the obstacle of a global pandemic that has dramatically shifted both of their lives. "Hard work and never giving up on your dream," stated Landrum. "You know, chasing what you want."
Owning a restaurant was a goal for Walker, who says he cooked his first egg at five years old. That was a mere decade before he had to grow up and develop the never-quit attitude that came with being a young father.
"We're going to get through Corona Virus, too," he said. "We're going to get through this too man, we're going to get through it."