Your Neighbor: Meet Pete Moran

Published 12:05 am Thursday, October 19, 2023

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By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

Growing up in a family that valued quality time together was something that resonated from an early age for Pete Moran. Moran found passions that would also stay with him through life and allow him to strengthen his appreciation for family.

“I was the youngest of five children,” Moran said. “My parents encouraged us to be active, and I immediately gravitated towards soccer. My family had already gotten involved in the local league, and my parents took a role serving on the soccer board as the president and secretary. If you lived in our town of Madison, Ohio, you knew my folks if you played soccer.”

If not tuning up his soccer skills, Moran enjoyed baking from an early age.

“Having an Italian background, family meals and cooking were important,” Moran said. “There was a lot of Italian heritage stuff that we would cook, and I loved learning. I soaked it in as much as possible.”

While learning outside the classroom about his family traditions, Moran was still heavily contemplating his other passion of soccer for college.

“I had received a couple of offers from Division II and III schools to play for them,” Moran said. “I was very interested until I had a career-ending tear of my ACL, unfortunately. I decided at that time to take some core classes at the local community college and figure out the next steps.”

Attending the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh seemed like a logical next step for Moran.

“The program lasted 18 months, and then I had to do some training at a country club in Naples, Florida,” Moran said. “It was a great learning experience working with such high-end ingredients all the time. It was a real immersion in the culture and what it meant. Although my friends and I would come home and just want to eat peanut butter and jellies or something from McDonald’s.”

After finishing his internship in Florida, Moran got a unique opportunity to start a business with his father.

“My father was an engineer by trade growing up and purchased a diner in Maine,” Moran said. “I helped him get it off the ground for the first two years. Since my dad was from Boston, that’s how he decided on that location. My father kept the diner running for 12 years until he passed. He was an excellent baker and very analytical, which helped make it successful. My mom also was involved and helped in the front of the house with all of the customers. I enjoyed getting to work with both of them.”

Moran knew that expanding his opportunities would round out his skills in the culinary world.

“I had met a friend in school that worked in the Winston-Salem area,” Moran said. “He asked me if I wanted to join him at the Filling Station. I decided it would be a good opportunity, and luckily, I did because I met my future wife, Mary Hilliard because of it.”

While Moran liked the Winston-Salem area, he still wanted to consider other business opportunities. Coming from a family that had an entrepreneurial spirit, Moran opened up a bar near Cleveland, Ohio.

“After the worst winter we had up there, Mary Hilliard and I decided to move back to warmer weather,” Moran said. “We didn’t have children at that time, so we could take adventures that best suited our careers and locations that interested us. We moved to Morehead City, North Carolina. I continued to work in the restaurant business during that time.”

Not long after their move, the Morans welcomed their first child, Edward, 15.

“Being in the restaurant business is tough when raising a family, that’s for sure,” Moran said. “I opened a franchise pizza restaurant and had the opportunity to work with Opie at Finnigan’s Wake. He is a fantastic person and really cared about every single customer that came in. Also, during that time, we had our other two children, Gloria, 12, and Hudson, 9, when we moved back to Clemmons.

“My wife’s job at the bank made the Winston-Salem area a good opportunity. Once Hudson was born, I realized that working in the restaurant business was tough, with trying to be there for all the kid’s activities and schedules. I was grateful to Mary Hilliard for working so hard in her job that it allowed me to be a stay-at-home dad.”

Moran went from running restaurants that involved being in charge of staff, making unique menus, and creating lists to improve efficiency in his industry to a full-time stay-at-home dad.

“I’ve loved being involved in the kids’ lives. From coaching their soccer teams to doing anything active you can think of — it’s been really special,” Moran said. “I’m still tapping into my passion for cooking and trying to share that with the kids. I have hundreds of cookbooks, and I still try to learn how to create new recipes. The best way to get creative is by taking it from a wide variety of resources. There are notebooks throughout the house where I have scribbled my ideas. The boys seem to really take to cooking with me more than the girls do.

“Whether we are smoking meats together and watching a soccer game or just cooking for the Center of Hope on Thursdays with our church, that quality time is being spent together.”

Those life lessons that were passed on to Moran as a child are being exemplified for the next generation.

“We still go to Boston every summer, where my dad was from,” Moran said. “I enjoy sharing that with my family, too. Family is the most important thing to me. The dad that I am is because of the example that was set for me.”