My Catawba County

5Q: Zackary Cranford

5Q: Zackary Cranford

When we learned Zackary Cranford was recently appointed to serve as board president for The Chamber of Catawba County, we thought it was about time to get to know him better. This homegrown owner/partner of Cranford Hospitality has been busy creating (and reinventing) local hot spots, launching locally distilled bourbon, and forging new territory along Hickory’s City Walk – ultimately becoming a driving force behind transforming Catawba County into a destination of choice.

What are the chief responsibilities of your role?
Anyone that’s worked in restaurants can relate to describing operations as organized chaos, and in short, my role is to ensure our pendulum swings closer to the organized side of things. On a day to day, I’m visiting locations to check on our team, putting out fires (not literally), and making sure we continue to provide great value to our customers at all concepts. I call it setting up our team for success.

Also, I get to be a visionary for our organization and our future. Right now, I’m spending a good amount of my time preparing for the opening of our 3 new ventures at 205 Main Ave (City Walk Brewing & Distillery, Cranford Brothers Barbecue, & and a soon to be announced fast casual restaurant).

What is your vision for the community, and how are you working to achieve it?
My vision is to make our community a destination. Growing up here and then going off to college in Raleigh, I often felt like people knew our area only in passing. They drove by it on the way to the mountains or Charlotte, but didn’t stop. I hope to cultivate a place where we become the destination, and no longer a stop along the way. A place where we are all proud to work, live, and enjoy. Anyone that’s lived here will tell you we are filled with resilient people and positioned in a beautiful part of the Foothills. We’ve made many great strides in the past 10 years, but that work is only the beginning to crafting a more diverse community.

What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do, and why?
There are several rewarding aspects to what I do. First and foremost, I get to work alongside my family in our family business to shape our community and place a lasting impact on it, even if it’s in a small way. Not many people get the opportunity to do that, I’m very grateful and I would argue I never work a day in my life because I genuinely enjoy what I do.

I have a strong entrepreneurial mindset and lifestyle. I’d be lying if I didn’t say bringing an idea into fruition isn’t the most rewarding aspect of what I do. That fulfillment keeps me coming back to the well.

On a personal note, what do you love about living in Catawba County?
Everything - our people, our culture, our parks, our community. Being positioned in the Foothills, we are the epicenter of everything in Western NC.

What is the best advice you've been given, and how has it made a difference for you?
Choose your attitude. We may not be able to control to everything going on around us, but we can control how we respond and how we present ourselves. Life’s short, there’s no reason for your glass not to be half full. 


First job?
Boxing socks at age 5 at my family’s old hosiery mill.

Favorite place in Catawba County?
My neighborhood between Geitner & Glenn Hilton Parks.

I’m in hospitality, I don’t have time for hobbies!

Most-watched movie?
More of documentary person.

What are you currently reading?
It’s not out yet, but I’m looking for Keith McNally’s memoir, I Regret Almost Everything. He’s a successful NYC restaurateur and it’s coming out this fall.