After graduating high school, Williams received a scholarship for baseball at Albany State. He was busy with college and baseball but continued to work with the Church’s Chicken franchise. When Williams completed college, he obtained a job in law enforcement and soon realized that the income wasn’t sufficient. Williams then made the decision to enlist in the Army to pursue his passion for cooking. “I couldn’t afford to go to culinary school so this allowed me to get food service certification,” shares Williams.
When his time with the army was over, Williams began to work at a carpet mill in Columbus, GA that was eventually bought out by Beaulieu of Dalton. Williams then transferred to Chatsworth to work at the Beaulieu there and began working at the Adairsville plant as well.
That’s when Williams realized that there were no good restaurants to eat at in Adairsville. “We always had to drive to Calhoun to eat lunch,” shares Williams. He and his co-workers, Teddy Hambrick and John and Gail Seymour, came up with the idea of a fish and wings restaurant and discussed opening an eatery in Adairsville. Williams and his co-workers tossed around several different food ideas and recipes while in the break room, and eventually put the plans into action. Hambrick and Seymour helped with the construction of the building and put in electricity. Finally, in 2002, Duke’s was opened at the restaurant’s first location in Adairsville. Soon after opening, Williams realized that most of his customers were Calhoun residents driving to Adairsville for his food; Williams then decided to open in downtown Calhoun.
“We had two locations at one point,” he shares, “so we had Duke’s and Sharkey’s.” Duke’s was eventually closed and now Sharkey’s is the only building in business for Williams. Sharkey’s, now located on Kelly court, is relocating back to downtown Calhoun sometime in October. Williams hopes to set up in place of Daylight Donuts and Poppy’s Pizza to be closer to where the Calhoun residents actually reside.
Williams, currently living in Plainville, has four children that he has successfully raised. His oldest son graduated Calhoun High School and is now in the air force and his middle son plays basketball at Florida State College. Williams has two children that still live with him at home, his daughter, a senior at Gordon Central, and his youngest son, a 7th grader at Ashworth.
When Williams is able to find spare time, he is coaching baseball and football at Ashworth. Williams also drives a school bus in the mornings and afternoons. “I love sports and I love kids,” says Williams. “My main goal is to make people happy to influence the kids that nothing is impossible.” Williams admits that he is exhausted when he gets home everyday so he is more than willing to let Cynthia do all of the cooking.
Williams says very grateful for his success in Calhoun. “I basically came from nothing. I’ve been through a lot, I’ve seen a lot, but now I am here.” Williams shares that it isn’t always easy being away from his family in Columbus, but his customers embrace him and his family, inviting him to their homes, especially during the holidays.
When asked what his favorite dish to make was, he had a hard time deciding between peach cobbler, cheese steak, and ribs. Today, Williams is willing to part with his recipes of “blackened tilapia” and “peach cobbler”, two of his customers’ most requested dishes.
1 can sliced peaches
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
2 sticks of butter
Pour peaches into casserole dish. Mix flour, sugar and butter in a separate bowl until fine crumbles form. Sprinkle crumbles on top of peaches. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Fresh tilapia (5-7 oz)
Old Bay’s blackened seasoning
Garlic and herb seasoning
Set temperature of flat grill top or skillet to medium heat and place in tilapia. Mix blackened seasoning and garlic and herbs seasoning together in bowl and sprinkle on top of tilapia. Season fish with lemon pepper last and grill about 6 minutes on each side. Adjust time depending on size of tilapia.