New owners for Kill Devil Hills ice cream and fries landmark

Published 1:18 pm Thursday, May 17, 2018

Duane Gillespie has vacationed in the Outer Banks since he was a kid, and he’s been bringing his own kids —  two now in college and one in high school — since they were small. A family tradition each and every trip? Kill Devil Hills Frozen Custard and Beach Fries.

The Northern Virginia native and longtime resident of Richmond has spent most of his career in corporate restaurant management, first with Outback, then Sweet Frog and most recently Mission BBQ. He and his wife have dreamed of living in the Outer Banks, figuring the dream would have to wait until retirement.

But a late-night internet search last summer changed all that.

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After a long shift at Mission BBQ in Stafford, Gillespie came home, got online and started clicking through a restaurant buy-and-sell site. He was looking at restaurants for sale on the Outer Banks, “really thinking 10 years down the line,” but was curious about prices.

That’s when he saw an unnamed eatery that sounded a whole lot like Kill Devil Hills Custard and Fries.

“It said ice cream, burgers, fries on the beach,” Gillespie said. “Just reading it, I thought, ‘that sounds like Kill Devil’s. The next morning getting ready for work, my wife was having coffee, and I said to her said ‘I think Kill Devil’s is for sale. I’m gonna email the broker.’”

In another moment of serendipity, Gillespie – who said he never, ever checks his phone while he’s at work – decided to take a look at it during a quick break at Mission BBQ the next day. As he picked it up, a 252-area code lit up the phone. It was the broker.

“That was meant to be,” he said. “If I’d missed that call, I don’t know if I would’ve called back.”

What came next was months of research and work to get a small business loan, then packing up and managing a move from Richmond.

Previous owners Mike and Kathy Wiechec bought the business in 2005, and grew it into one of the Outer Bank’s most recognized brands. After 13 years of owning, developing and running Kill Devil’s, they decided they were ready to sell the business to new owners and relocate.

On March 28, Gillespie and his wife Michelle officially become the owners of Kill Devil’s Frozen Custard and Beach Fries at 1002 Croatan Highway.

The sale was completed by Jeffery Baxter, President of MidStreet Mergers and Acquisitions.

“Kill Devil’s is an Outer Banks landmark.  I knew from the moment Mike and Kathy called we would have a number of interested buyers but I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect fit than Duane and Michelle,” Baxter said.