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He's been the local chamber's citizen of the year and the business of the year and the grand marshal for the Flapjack Festival parade. He's been called a fixture, an institution and maybe the most known man-about-town in all of Land O'Lakes. He's the talkative, excitable, longtime boss of Hungry Harry's Famous Bar-B-Que in the can't-miss-it red barn on U.S. 41. Here's Harry Wright.

She said, "What are you gonna do?" and I said, "I'm gonna open me a barbecue restaurant," and she said, "You crazy fool."

The chamber of commerce says I'm an institution. I don't know. Most people say I should probably be institutionalized.

Running a restaurant from 10:30 in the morning to 9 at night seven days a week? You best know what you're doing.

I used to be a corrections officer at a maximum security prison. That was back in '79, '80 and '81. That's where I did my first big barbecue catering, was in there.

My dad ran an ice plant and then went into the convenience store business. He catered to the picking, working-class people, put in barbecue ribs and chicken.

This is Lake Padgett. I fell in love with the piece of property 23 years ago. I came out here where nobody was at. There was nothing. Nothing.

I opened Nov. 5, 1985.

I used to be real crazy.

We've had the fortune of giving away over a quarter of a million meals. We went to Homestead four times during Hurricane Andrew. Beat the president there. We fed 5,500 people in two days, and we drove back all night with our old equipment, and then everybody went to work.

We ain't fancy. We ain't never gonna be. We're just good.

I say: "I got a barbecue restaurant." They say: "Any good?" I say: "Nah, we've been foolin' people for 23 years."

If you don't like it, it's free.

I'm now doing weddings for kids who ate my food in the second and third grade.

We've been here forever and we've survived.

The exciting thing for me is that I worked over 100 hours a week for 18 years. Now I'm part-time. I work 75, 80 hours a week.

I've lived in Florida every day of my life - except seven months and two days I lived in Miami.

Two days after people agree on politics and religion - two days after that, they'll agree on barbecue. The name of my book is going to be Everybody Knows Everything About Life, and Barbecue, and in it will be listed the 60,000 barbecue capitals of the world, because everybody thinks they're from the barbecue capital of the world.

I use a lot of lemon juice, a lot of citrus juice, and I use a lot of garlic. There ain't never too much garlic in there.

Used to be, I was arrogant.

I guess I'm maturing. I'm 57 now.

I eat it every day, I eat it all day long, but I play senior softball. One weekend, I played six games in one day. I take these little 20-, 25-year-old boys, and just work 'em in the dirt. My body is great and good but I've got to do some stuff to keep care of it.

I'm so excited to be alive I can't stand it. Beats the heck out of the alternative. Put me in, Coach. I'll play.

Just to let you know, I've been wrong a couple times in my life.

I only want to live to be 109.

Reported and compiled by Michael Kruse, Times staff writer

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About this feature

Everybody has a story, and that's what this feature is about - just letting them tell it. Know somebody who'd be good? E-mail Michael Kruse at or call (813) 909-4617.