Treating people like family is what Ralph Lupton is all about. And at his Tampa restaurant he’s been doing that for almost five decades.
Opening its doors in 1969 as Fatman’s Barbeque, it now bears the family name.
And at 80 years of age, he’s cut back to only working seven days a week.
Put up for adoption when he was two, Lupton has a special place in his heart for kids.
Every year he hosts a special picnic for foster families at his Plant City ranch.
“It started off very small,” Lupton reminisced. “I can’t give you accurate numbers, but maybe it was 25 or 30. The next year 50. The next year: 100. The next year, but it kept building and building and building.”
Now working with the non-profit child and family service organization Eckerd Kids, this year Lupton threw his 27th kids party.
He told Everyday Hero host Bill Murphy about a picnic years ago when a young boy was taking a large number of hamburgers. Lupton went to talk with him.
“And that little boy was over behind the building,” Lupton said. “He was wrapping these hamburgers up and was storing them. He was ‘gonna take them home.”
The child was taking more because he wasn’t sure when he would have food to eat again.
For Lupton, stories like these can be very emotional.
He then asked the boy a question.
“I wanted to know if there was anything else he wanted because we were going to see to it that he was going to take home whatever he wanted,” Lupton said.
Lupton is quick to credit his family and volunteers.
And even though Lupton was adopted 78 years ago, he doesn’t forget.
“You see, the good Lord has blessed me much more than I deserve and it’s the only way that I know right now that I can give back,” Lupton said.