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Zippers owner dies suddenly

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

The owner of a well-known Lincolnton eatery died Monday afternoon after suffering a brain aneurysm earlier that morning, friends said.

Ralph Rudisill, 56, of 115 Jonas Drive in Lincolnton, who owned Zippers Restaurant & Lounge in Lincolnton, passed away at Carolinas Medical Center-Main in Charlotte, hours after experience the sudden event.

According to Marge Walker, who’s done payroll and bookkeeping for the business at least the last five years, said she couldn’t have asked for a better boss.

She even teared up while talking to the Times-News Monday about Rudisill.

“Ralph was the most wonderful boss man I’ve ever had,” she said.

Walker revealed that he had been on vacation over the last week but had come back to work Sunday afternoon.

Over the years, Rudisill donated portions of the restaurant’s proceeds to local nonprofits but never wanted recognition for it, employees said.

Zippers particularly gave money to Christian Ministry of Lincoln County, Doctors Without Borders and A Child’s Place, the Times-News previously reported.

The restaurant also received multiple accolades including the 2011 and 2012 Taste of Lincolnton award, an honor the Chamber of Commerce hands out at their annual Business Expo.

The Chamber also awarded Rudisill the coveted “Small Business Owner of the Year” award in November.

Rudisill opened Zippers more than 12 years ago with just five employees, and since then, the restaurant has grown to more than 30 workers and has become quite the hot spot for casual dining in the community, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“All of his employees thought a lot of him — customers, too,” Walker said.

She remembered how he often left her little notes on Monday mornings, telling her about recent hires or other important business news.

“He loved this place,” Walker said of the business. “Everybody’s just so torn up.”

The Warlick Funeral Home is handling Rudisill’s arrangements. Zippers will reopen after his funeral later in the week.

 

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