Established in 1946, the Hamont Grill and Steakhouse, is not only Fayetteville’s oldest family-owned restaurant to stay in the same location, but it has also been a prominent business that has attracted people from all over the world.
“There’s not a politician in North Carolina or the United States that has come to Fayetteville without visiting here. Generals, presidents, congressmen, you name it,” says Pete Skenteris, former owner of the restaurant.
Skenteris was the owner of the Hamont Grill and Steakhouse for 55 years and has recently turned over the business to his two sons, Dino and Jimmy.
“I’m supposed to be retired, but I’m still here,” says Skenteris, who comes in on Tuesday and Saturday mornings to help out at the restaurant.
Skenteris spent his younger years in Greece and moved to Fayetteville in 1951, when he was just 10 years old.
“When I came from Greece as a young kid, we had to work to survive. We didn’t speak much English; we didn’t know much of anything. So while I was going to school I started working in a kitchen washing dishes,” says Skenteris.
When he ﬁnished high school in 1956 he went over to a tiny restaurant that was formerly known as Steve’s Grill to work full time. Steve and Skenteris became partners of Steve’s Grill in 1960 and when Steve died in 1967, Skenteris bought the building with the intention of expanding the restaurant.
“There were ﬁve businesses in the building,” says Skenteris, “Part of it was the restaurant, part of it was First Citizens Bank, part of it was the Haymont Shoe Shop, my kitchen was Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and the front part of it was the Haymount Barber Shop.”
After purchasing the building, Skenteris told the other four businesses that they had to move out. The First Citizens Bank moved two blocks down, the barber shop moved across the street, and the shoe shop moved to Raeford Road.
“So they all stayed close by,” says Skenteris.
After expanding, renaming and running the restaurant for 55 years, Skenteris decided to retire and hand the business over to his sons.
“When I retired I told them if they want the place they can have it or I’d sublease it,” says Skenteris, “they said they wanted it. They are staying here. I told them they have to take care of the business and take care of the customers like I have been doing for 50 years, and they’re doing a good job…they’re doing well.”
Jimmy Skenteris, Pete’s son and present owner of the restaurant, says that business has been good considering the economy.
“I’m enjoying it,” says Jimmy, “I remember being 5 years old running around the restaurant. I’ve always liked the restaurant business.”
While the Hamont Grill and Steakhouse is under new management, it has also recently had the interior renovated in order to accommodate customers and keep it up to date.
“Of course this place has been here since 1946, and we have to bring it up-to-date so we put in new booths, new tables, new ﬂ oors, new ceilings, new fans and handicapped bathrooms,” says Skenteris, “As we’re getting older a lot of my friends and customers who have been eating with me for the past 50-60 years are having problems getting around and a lot of them have walkers and wheelchairs. It was time to bring it up to date to help our customers and our business.”