Family-owned Durham cafe is welcoming a set of wheels

Harrison Sneed (right) with his father, Walter Sneed, in front of their family-owned Tater Bread Cafe located on Morning Glory Avenue, off of Alston Avenue. (Staff photo by AJ O'Leary)

Son of the Tater Bread Cafe owner hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps by launching a food truck

He started working in his father’s cafe when he was 15 years old. Now, he plans to open a restaurant of his own — on wheels.

Harrison Sneed, 24, runs Tater Bread Cafe at 1108 Morning Glory Avenue with his father, Walter Sneed. His father founded the restaurant 9 years ago; Harrison Sneed hopes to follow in his footsteps and launch a food truck in front of the restaurant.

“It’s going to be a little bit of an extension of this,” Harrison Sneed said, looking at the Cafe he runs with his father. “But mainly my own venture.”

Walter Sneed started Tater Bread Cafe as a place for locals to eat quality soul food and the Cafe’s namesake, tater bread. Tater bread is a sweet treat, similar to sweet potato pie, and just one of many Southern delicacies served at Tater Bread Cafe.

Harrison Sneed said the menu will have many of the same items as Tater Bread Cafe, but will also grow to include some of his ideas, like his 20 wing sauces. He said he was inspired to start the food truck because of his parents.

“My parents have always owned their own business,” Harrison Sneed said. “My dad has a cleaning business, and he’s always owned that since I was a kid, and then he opened up the restaurant. Then my mom has her doctorate in education. She had her own preschool.”

Harrison Sneed said both of his parents are good cooks, but he learned much of what he knows about cooking from his mother.

“She’s a phenomenal cook, and not just with soul food, but she can cook Mediterranean, Italian, French,” Harrison Sneed said. “That’s where I got my palate from.”

Harrison Sneed said he wants to save enough money from his food truck, and working with his father, to travel the world and study the culinary arts. He hasn’t picked a destination just yet but said he would love to study in Italy.

“They’re really competitive, and that’s kind of my nature,” Harrison Sneed said. “I want you to know that this restaurant is good right here.”

In the meantime, the younger Sneed may not have to look so far for a healthy competition. Joyce Jones has worked for Tater Bread Cafe for the past two years. After describing her deep-dish bacon-wrapped spaghetti and beef tips over rice with gravy and garlic salt, Jones asked, “Wouldn’t you want me to cook for you?”

Though he has hopes of starting his own business and traveling the world, Harrison Sneed said he wants to continue working with his father and someday take over the cafe. 

“This is my baby. The food truck is something I want to do… This is the family business. The food truck is my own thing, but this is the family business. I’m going to try to keep this going in the family as long as I can,” Harrison Sneed said.

That said, Walter Sneed, 74, doesn’t plan on passing the torch to his son too soon.

“I don’t know how 74 is supposed to feel, but I feel pretty good,” Walter Sneed said.

His son, a man willing to run two businesses, joked that his biggest challenge might not be all the work ahead.

“I wish I had a brother, I wish I had 10 of them,” Harrison Sneed said. “Dealing with a dad with a big personality on my own, that’s a lot.”

Still, the young entrepreneur is quick to say how much he enjoys working with his father.

“It is probably the best thing that you can have, working with family,” Harrison Sneed said. “It’s a great thing.”

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Edited by Maddie Fetsko