KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Pal Barger, the founder of Pal’s Sudden Service, has died at the age of 90.
A spokesperson for Pal’s Sudden Service confirmed that Barger died Thursday afternoon of natural causes.
Barger had been in declining health for the past two years, according to the company.
After serving in the Air Force and earning a degree in business from East Tennessee State University, Barger opened the first Pal’s location in 1956 on Revere Street in Kingsport.
Today, there are 30 Pal’s locations spread throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
Barger was featured on Josh Smith’s ‘Tri-Cities Original‘ segment that aired in 2019.
Barger’s wife, Sharon, a well-known entrepreneur herself, died at the age of 72 in 2018. She founded Sharon’s BBQ, which once sat at the corner of West Center Street and Clay Street in Kingsport, and operated the former Skoby’s restaurant along with her husband.
In recent years, Barger oversaw a plan of succession with Thom Crosby as his right-hand man. Life slowed down for the man known for sudden service, but he never forgot the reason for his success.
“If you give them good food and good service…they’ll come back,” Barger said in a Tri-Cities Original interview.
His death even grabbed the attention of Gov. Bill Lee, who, in a tweet Thursday night, called Barger “a true Tennessean” who “will be greatly missed.”