What started out as a summer job at the age of 15 quickly became Armand’s full-time career and passion as he worked his way up the ladder.
Then, in 2012, Armand inherited co-ownership from the original owners—John Snead, the original Big Daddy, and Sherrye, his wife—in partnership with their son. Later, in 2019, he bought out full ownership of the restaurant.
“I love working here, and I have a super-strong relationship with the [original] owners, and I’m honored that they would consider me,” said Armand, who referred to the Sneads as mentors.
Armand said his love for food stems from his years of experience working in restaurant kitchens. For the best dining experience, Big Daddy’s Ship Store strives to use only fresh ingredients, which he sources from local providers including the Grapevine Farmers’ Market.
Popular menu items include burgers, fried catfish and the chicken bacon avocado sandwich. There are also seasonal menu items like fish tacos, chargrilled oysters and ceviche. Breakfast is served on the weekends, and customers can bring their own drinks to the location.
“The food is the most important thing for us. If we don’t serve a good product, then nobody’s going to come,” Armand said.
The restaurant’s proximity to the water has proved to occasionally be a challenge—as seen in 2015 when a massive flood submerged the place and forced it to shut down temporarily. Despite this setback, the waterfront remains a big attraction for visitors, with the restaurant’s direct view of the boat dock.
Armand said oftentimes boaters will pull up to grab a quick bite to eat. But the majority of traffic comes from in-town visitors.
“Everyone comes up to me and says, ‘Oh my gosh, I love being on the water,’ ... so that’s a huge bonus for us,” Armand said.
The success of the original Grapevine location prompted Armand to open a second Big Daddy’s Ship Store at Highport Marina near Lake Texoma. For now, the goal is to have both locations run smoothly, regardless of whether he is present or not, Armand said. He also hopes to make the restaurants less seasonal, with constant business year-round, even during the colder winter months when he usually reduces the restaurant hours.
“Grapevine is the baby. I’ve been here forever and ever—this is my pride and joy,” he said. “It’s constantly evolving. I’m going to be constantly investing into this—not only my time, but my profits—to make the experience better for my customers as well as my staff.”