A Man with a Vision: Paul Williams Seeks Only the Best for Sanford
BY JULIE CAPPS
This issue of My Sanford Magazine focuses on delivering the Best of Sanford. From Best Veterinarian to Best Family Fun Day, our extensive list is a true showcase of all that’s great about Sanford. A list of this type would not be complete without shining a spotlight on Paul Williams.
A jack of all trades, Williams not only owns and operates two award-winning establishments — West End Trading Company (Best Wings) and Celery City Craft (Best Beer Selection) — he also helps setup and run the majority of special events that happen around town. We’re talking Pints ‘N Paws, Sanford Mardi Gras, St. Paddy’s Fire Truck Pull & Festival, Julep’s and Jockey’s, Sofa ‘n Suds, the list could go on and on. Pick any city event happening on the Sanford social scene, and it’s likely Williams is involved in the planning. Not only are these events a rousing good time for all, but they are also an excellent source of fund- raising, with proceeds going to local charities. Williams also serves on the Sanford Tourism board and is a co-founder of Keeping Sanford Sparkling, a community cleanup program.
With all he does for the city, it’s not surprising Williams has been named Best Sanford Promoter/Visionary for 2018.
Williams’ motivation is twofold. “It’s part of my business plan,” admits Williams, with many of the events involving some form of hosting from one or both of his establishments. “But I also see Sanford growing. I think fun and special events are key in that growth. I think that’s the only way to draw people in who have never been to Sanford before.”
Williams’ love for Sanford began over17 years ago, when he first arrived from his hometown of Denton, TX, and felt an immediate connection to Sanford’s historic, small-town vibe.
“Developmentally, Sanford is really similarin size and growth, but 10 or 15 years behind Denton,” says Williams. “It reminds me of my hometown with the look of it, and in the way it’s growing and the style it’s growing. Essentially I felt at home when I moved here.”
And home has translated to family, with Williams now married to wife Katie and the two are focused on raising their two children: Sadie (aged 4) and Dallas (aged 2). Sanford hospitality is a family commonality, with his in-laws operating another popular Sanford business: The District.
Among all the events he puts on, Williams labels Pints ‘N Paws as his passion. The event came about after Williams had lost his 13-year- old lab. A connection with Judy Sarullo, founder of Pet Rescue by Judy, helped Williams recognize he was ready to adopt another dog. Now Williams owns two dogs introduced by Sarullo (seen on our cover: Bubby and Charlie). The idea of a craft beer festival benefiting Sarulllo’s organization followed soon after, with the popular event now in its eighth year.
There’s no doubt Williams has accomplished a lot for the city, but he still has ideas for more.
“I would love to see Sanford capitalize more on tourism,” says Williams. “Because I have seen that with the emerging bar/brewery/restaurant entertainment scene.”
He hopes his actions will encourage others to fall in love with Sanford just like he did. “You can come to a place that’s still real — it’s not fake. There is no Disney affect here. It’s a real getaway to a place that still is untapped and still has historical integrity to it,” says Williams. “It’s a hidden gem.”