BURGAW – A Wilmington entrepreneur who once owned tech jobs site Hotjobs and mortgaged his home to buy a Super Bowl ad, wants someone to launch an new restaurant in Burgaw. And he’s offering$1 million through his new startup called “Own Your Own.”

“I fell in love with Burgaw immediately but realized too many of the buildings were empty,” says Richard Johnson. “I set out on a mission to help revitalize the downtown commercial district and get more foot traffic to support the local businesses.”

Johnson, who has lived in Wilmington since 2005 and is CEO of Turtle Cove Enterprises, believes the model could help other towns as well. He came up with the idea while considering the launching of another restaurant in the eastern N.C. town.

FAQ: The Competition

The Nationwide Own Your Own (OYO) Competition is open to anyone 18 and older! We are looking for the next “wantrepreneur”. Someone who has a passion for food, a mind for business and a heart for community.

All applications will be reviewed by the OYO team. Finalists of the Own Your Own Competition will be invited to Burgaw to participate in a series of challenges that highlight their culinary expertise, creativity, leadership, ability to problem solve and people skills.


The competitors who make it to Burgaw will prepare their signature dish for the community with a pop-up kitchen on the town square. The town will vote for their favorites and the finalists will be narrowed down. The remaining finalists will continue on in Burgaw to prove to the judges and the community they have what it takes to own their own restaurant in Burgaw, NC!

The winner of the Own Your Own Competition will have a budget of up to one million dollars and a team of architects, designers, and builders to create the restaurant of their dreams.

Meet the judges here: https://www.ownyourown.com/the-judges

Source: Own Your Own

Burgaw is the county seat of Pender County, has a population of about 4,000 and is near Wilmington.

Own Your On is rolling out a nationwide competition to see will land the investment.

Johnson already has launched two what he calls eateries in Burgaw – a FatDaddy’s and Burgaw Brewing Company. He believes another eatery will boost the town’s economy.

“I guess it’s not every day that someone comes up to you and says, ‘Can I build you a restaurant?’,” says Johnson. “But it works. I find someone who wants to own a restaurant, build it for them and hand it over with a reasonable lease. They get their own restaurant, and the town has a new gathering place.”

Who is Richard Johnson?

Johnson created Hotjobs, later took it public and sold it to Yahoo.

In 2014 his Super Bowl add was called one of the 10 ‘gutsiest” moves in the history of entrepreneurs.

Wrote Under  30 CEO in ranking the decision No. 10 : “$1.6 million mortgage to buy a super bowl ad”

“Richard Johnson, the CEO of Hotjobs decided to take out a mortgage on his house to buy one single ad during the Superbowl. The response was immediate and HotJobs moved from being a struggling fledgling company in 1999, to being acquired by Yahoo 2 years later for half a billion dollars.”

That’s pretty rarified company. Other top 10 decisions included the iPhone, Tesla’s backing by Elon Musk, and rejected merger offers by Facebook as well as Twitter.

In his LinkedIn profile, Johnson writes about himself:

Started some companies, sold some companies. Along the way I worked with some amazing people. After winning the business lottery, I moved to Jackson Hole for three years and settled in Wilmington, NC in 2005. Since 2005 my primary focus has been on family. I have also kept busy serving on non-profit boards (most recently Trout Unlimited) and starting a non-profit called (MSB) masonboro.org in 2009. MSB’s crowning achievement is annually taking every 5th grade student (2000+) in New Hanover County to Masonboro Island for an educational field trips. I still do a some pro-bono recruiting and C-suite consulting. I love marketing, sales, process analysis and helping people with career consulting. Most recently I am developing a boat manufacturing facility, a tree farm and buying some buildings in the town of Burgaw, NC. I mentor a lot of entrepreneurs who are facing high growth opportunities and every once in a while I even try to go fly fishing or offshore fishing.