“Neighbors” is a regular feature on TheBokey.com that highlights the people who make Sanford special.
Paul Williams sells fun. As the owner of the West End Trading Co., a co-owner in Celery City Craft and a partner in 5 bars in Texas (1 in Austin, 2 in Denton, 1 in College Station and 1 in Dallas), the man knows how to have a good time.
Big Paul also puts on some of Sanford’s biggest events, including The Hurricane Party (11 years running) and Pints ‘n Paws, a craft beer festival that raises money for pet charities. Over the last 6 years, Pints ‘n Paws has raised $150,000.
Paul is a tireless champion of Sanford. The #Sanfording is his creation and a way for residents and visitors alike to let the social media world know that they’re supporting local business in town.
Successful businessman, generous philanthropist, promoter of all things Sanford, Paul Williams is all those things. But did you know he’s also a homebody who never earned a passing grade in business class? Read on to learn more.
Dan Ping: Where did you grow up?
Paul Williams: Denton, Texas.
DP: Who’s your family?
PW: Katie is my lady, Sadie is my toddler, and Dallas is our newborn. Bubz and Charlie round out the canine team. The rest of my family lives in the great state of Texas. I do, however, have a quite large family of employees right here in Bokey. They truly are family, and that’s the way we operate!
DP: What did you want to be when you were a kid?
PW: A Major League baseball player. I also wanted a Fiero really badly, and now I am not sure why.
DP: Oddly enough, I wanted a Fiero, too. Those cars aren’t really built for XXL dudes like you and me. Can you imagine the two of us in one Fiero?
PW: That baby would bottom out going over one of those speed tables on Palmetto Avenue.
DP: No doubt. We’d have to call the fire department to use the jaws of life just to get our fat asses out of the car. Did you have a nickname growing up?
PW: I thought my middle name was “dammit” until i was about 6, my parents were always yelling “Paul dammit!”
DP: Who was your favorite cartoon character growing up?
PW: Fred Flintstone
DP: I can see that. Why did you leave Denton?
PW: It’s a long story, but basically it was time for me to take a leap from where i grew up.
DP: How did you find your way to Sanford?
PW: I moved to Orlando for a year. I was selling sporting equipment to schools and other organizations. At some point I just found myself up this way not long after that.
DP: What was your first impression of Sanford?
PW: It was a small town with lots of potential and growing, a lot like my hometown.
DP: Why did you start your business in Sanford?
PW: Because of the immense potential, baby!
DP: What is Sanford’s greatest asset?
PW: You mean assets, plural. The water, airport, train station, zoo, main travel arteries, emerging nightlife and commerce, awesome downtown – I could go on all afternoon.
DP: What needs to change in Sanford?
PW: There isn’t anything major that already isn’t changing for the better. I just hope folks can get on board and embrace it.
DP: Do you have a favorite song?
PW: Well, “Stranglehold” would be my wrestlin’ song. You know the song they play when I come into the ring.
DP: Ar-ight, if you got a wrestlin’ song, what’s your wrestlin’ name?
PW: Hmm, I hadn’t thought that far into it. I don’t know, how about the Bokey Bomber?
DP: That works, though I’m a little disappointed you hadn’t already thought one up. So as a bar owner, you’ve seen some weird stuff. What’s the weirdest?
PW: It’s all weird, man, and i love it! One time we had a cop singing heavy metal in his uniform at a show while on duty.
DP: Yeah, I remember that. That was his swan song with the police department. What is your favorite event in Sanford?
PW: Selfishly, I love Pints ‘n Paws, but that’s my bias. More than a single event, I really love to see people moving about the town and checking everything out, especially when people stick around after an event to experience all we have to offer.
DP: Who’s your favorite Sanford person – past or present?
PW: Ronnie always makes me smile.
DP: What’s your favorite restaurant?
PW: Willow Tree for fun and atmosphere; The District for my favorite meal, tuna tacos, which are amazing; Christos and Breezeway for everyday eats; Jimottis and Smiling Bison for something nicer; and the hidden gem? Drum rolllllllll …. the Korean menu at Best Fish and Chicken Wings! The chicken wings are awesome, too, and I say that as someone who sells a ton of wings at the West End.
DP: After more than a decade in the bar business, you’re about to get married and you’re a brand new daddy, what’s that like? Has it changed you?
PW: I don’t go out at night much anymore, and I like it that way. Spending time with the fam at the house is really my favorite thing to do these days.
DP: Really? So you’re not “Party Paul” any more?
PW: Hey, I still like to have a good time, but I think people think I’m this high-energy, party-all-the-time guy because that’s kinda my public persona. Honestly, I really enjoy my quiet time alone with the family.
DP: I know Katie helps her family at The District restaurant on Friday nights, so you’re at home with the kids. I tease her about it, but she says you love it.
PW: I do. That’s how I roll on Friday nights nowadays.
DP: So is that the biggest misconception people have about you?
PW: Probably so. That and people are surprised when they find out I have no education in business whatsoever.
DP: Get out here! None?
PW: Not a single class. I have a Batchelor of Arts in history and political science.
DP: So, no book learning, but clearly you got an in-the-field education somewhere. How did that come about?
PW: During college, I worked at a bar in Denton. The Bruno family and Lou Delaney really taught me about the bar business. A lot of the things they did there, I do today at my bars. They treated us all like family, which is another lesson I learned from them. In fact, Lou is one of my business partners.
DP: So let’s talk about serious stuff now – football. If the Dallas Cowboys never existed, who would you root for?
PW: Ouch! Why all this hate for the Cowboys? I saw what you said about Cory last week. I guess if Dallas didn’t have a team, being from Texas, I probably would have defaulted to the Oilers as a kid, but I wouldn’t have been happy about it.
DP: Hey if the Cowboys weren’t around, Dallas would still have a pro team. You ever heard of SMU? Last question: Will we ever see you without your beard?
PW: Highly unlikely. This face has been covered since 1997, before beards were hip!
Do you know someone who should be featured in “Neighbors”? Send their name and contact information to Dan@TheBokey.com.