Restaurants

Feeding passion: The story of downtown restaurant Circa 1800 and the devoted individuals leading it along the way

By Stephanie Meador, posted 3 weeks ago
Brandy Puczylowski became the owner of Circa 1800 in January of 
2013. She has over 30 years of experience working in the restaurant industry. Photo provided by Circa 1800

Popular downtown Fayetteville eatery Circa 1800 has been serving the community for over 15 years now. Many loyal customers may not know the heartfelt history of the business and the careful hands it has been placed in over the years. Original Founder Kirk deViere opened Circa 1800 in 2008, but in 2013 the business underwent a change in ownership. 

“My whole interest in starting Circa was to make an investment in downtown, specifically on the Person Street side. And I knew some people that had been in the restaurant space, and so [I] really just wanted to help revitalize that part of downtown,” shared deViere. 

Brandy Puczylowski has been working in the restaurant industry since she was 16. When she met deViere, she was a server at Sammio’s Italian Restaurant. 

In addition to opening Circa 1800, deViere worked with ERA Strother and ate lunch at Sammio’s several days a week. CEO of ERA Strother Denise Strother also assisted in getting the two connected. When their paths crossed, deViere was certain he wanted Puczylowski to be the one to take over as owner of Circa. 

“For me I knew I would always step away from it, find the right person that would take it over whether it was somebody internally or somebody like Brandy, and I knew within two hours of talking to Brandy after Denise connected us that she was going to be the one, we just had to figure out how to do it,” remarked deViere. 

Puczylowski has been the owner of Circa 1800 for 11 years now.

“...to have [him and] Denise who are both extremely successful people to say ‘We believe in you, we’re going to pour into you, you can do this,’ was more than I could have ever asked for,” shared Puczylowski. 

The transition of ownership was gradual as Puczylowski had a lot of experience working in restaurants but was new to running a business. However, deViere had no doubt in Puczylowski’s talents. 

“She loves what she does. She loves serving people. She loves the food aspect and you feel like you're sitting at your family table when you're eating. And I just knew that you can’t teach that, people can’t learn that. They can learn all the business stuff and all that other stuff, but they can’t learn how you make people feel, and Brandy had that,” stated deViere. 

Once she grew comfortable in her new position, Puczylowski was able to begin implementing some minor changes and putting her own spin on things while still maintaining the classic Circa brand. 

Some of the changes made under Puczylowski’s leadership include expanding to serve brunch, slight alterations to interior design and special dinner events.

Puczylowski currently leads a staff of 13 and the business continues to experience great success and receive high remarks. Even all these years later though Puczylowski still values the input given to her by her mentor. 

“I still ask him questions, believe me. The first year-first few years I would text and say ‘Hey, where'd you get the silverware? I need more silverware.’ ‘Hey, what about this credit card processing?’ So I don’t reach out to him very much now with needs but I always know that he's available and he responds immediately to any question or concern or need that I have” stated Puczylowski. 

Puczylowski has proven herself and risen to the challenge over the past 11 years.

“I look at Brandy when I met her and the woman business owner that she is today [and] I just, I beam with pride because she is head and shoulders above where she was,” remarked deViere.

With a decade of ownership now under her belt, Puczylowski’s confidence in herself to run the business has increased. However, she still continues to lead with humility and an attention to what will best serve the business as a whole. 

“There’s always a balance where anytime I think ‘Yeah, I'm killing this,’ there’s that check, that humbleness that comes…but I’m a very intuitive, go with what I think is right [kind of person], and I try to make decisions, not what’s best for me, but what is right,” Puczylowski said.

Both Puczylowski and deViere are thrilled with Circa’s success. Puczylowski is focused on continuing to pour back into the community which remains loyal to the restaurant. 

Puczylowski’s husband, Anthony Jackson, tends the bar at Circa and has taken quite an interest in mixology. Puczylowski said now their cocktails rival their food and draw in more customers. 

Jackson is now entering into the mobile bartending business. He bought a trailer that pulls behind the car and he, with Puczylowski’s support, is working on starting the Southern Spirit Guide. Jackson will provide bartending services for weddings, private parties and more as well as offer cocktail classes.

Puczylowski shared that she has toyed with the idea of opening a food truck down the road, but there is no concrete plan for that yet. 

“I’m just grateful she continued what we started and really just took it to another level... I mean it’s, for me, I enjoy helping build things and it was an investment in our downtown, but finding somebody like Brandy that could really take it, love it, take it to the next level is just even better for me than the original transition that I had always envisioned,” shared deViere.

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