“In the summer of 1995, Vanessa Foreman, her son Philip, and her sister Diana, went on a trip to Georgia.  After a visit to the Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta the idea for a fun 50’s theme restaurant was born. They decided to name it Big Al’s after Vanessa’s husband. The dream of Big Al’s became a reality on June 5, 1997, as the restaurant opened its doors, serving traditional diner fare and a complete fountain and dessert menu to locals and tourists alike.””



“By the summer of 1998, Philip had graduated from soda jerk to shift manager of the restaurant.  Donny DeBarr, a college student at Carnegie Mellon University, came to Big Al’s, applied for a summer job as a busboy, and was hired by Philip. Over the next few summers, Donny came back to work at the restaurant, and as their friendship grew they talked about someday going into business together.” 



“Donny and Philip’s careers led them in different directions: Donny’s to New York City and the world of quantitative finance, and Philip’s to managing and eventually purchasing the Brew Thru convenience store chain.”



“Big changes occurred in the summer of 2010, as Donny left NYC to move to Nags Head, and Philip and Donny began discussing the idea of going into business together. At this time, Philip approached his mother with the prospect of buying Big Al’s, as she had been contemplating retirement. The two knew that Big Al’s had become an Outer Banks landmark, and were excited at the possibility of making it their own. In December of 2010, the new era began, as ownership of Big Al’s officially changed hands.  Philip and Donny’s goal for the restaurant is to preserve Big Al’s legacy and atmosphere, while focusing on fresh and high-quality ingredients. The interior was renovated and operations were streamlined in an effort to bring customers a great product served in a fun and family-friendly atmosphere. In addition to their menu of tasty burgers and diner fare, they’ve added a number of healthier options, as well as daily blue plate specials, homemade ice cream and desserts.”


Meet the leadership team.


    Philip Foreman



    Donny DeBarr