Tailgater’s owner Gregory Faull dies, leaves UCF legacy

Aside from construction, his restaurant and UCF athletics, another one of Gregory Faull's passions was fishing. Faull was killed in November while at his home in Ambergris Caye.

On Nov. 11, 2012, a beloved member of the UCF community lost his life in a violent attack at his home in Ambergris Caye, an island off the coast of Belize.

Gregory Viant Faull was a well-known face around the university, especially when it came to UCF athletics. It was common to see him cheering on the UCF football and men’s basketball teams. Vickie Faull, his ex-wife, said he was incredibly close with Donnie Jones, coach of the men’s basketball team, as well as the players.

“UCF was his team,” said Kristi Campbell, former bartender and front of house manager at Tailgaters Smokehouse, the restaurant Faull opened on campus in Knight’s Plaza.

“He was the No. 1 supporter of the athletic department,” Campbell said. Whenever there was a game his attitude was infectious, and whenever UCF won there would be free drinks, free meals all around, she said.

Greg Faull opened up Tailgaters Smokehouse on the UCF campus in 2007 after he saw the opportunity while working on a separate construction project at the university.

Vickie Faull recalled how every day he would walk by the empty space where Tailgaters later occupied and would go home and tell her what a great place it would be for a restaurant.

“I thought he would forget about it, but he did not,” she said.

Greg Faull loved to cook, his sister Cindy Friedemann said, and would always cook for his family at different events. He hoped to open a restaurant in Belize and thought opening a restaurant on campus was going to be a good way to try it out and get one step closer to that goal.

“He learned of the opportunity and took the chance to try to make one [of] his dreams come true,” Friedemann said.

He came up with the concept of Tailgaters himself and enjoyed the energy of young people. It was the only full-liquor venue on any college campus in the country, with 48 different draft beers that he selected himself, Vickie Faull said.

Before opening Tailgaters, Greg Faull had a successful career in construction. He worked on several projects in Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld and was involved in a lot of the construction of the Disney Boardwalk, Friedemann said.

Aside from construction, his restaurant and UCF athletics, another one of his passions was fishing.

Campbell recalled how much she loved sitting down and listening to his fishing stories, laughing as she remembered a story about how he had been barefoot while fishing, suffered an injury that caused him to lose part of his toe and continued fishing.

“Greg was larger than life,” Campbell said. “He did whatever he set his mind to.”

In addition, Friedemann shared how Greg Faull loved to help people live through experiences and create memories that they would never forget. Whenever someone visited the family, she said, he made sure to take them on some kind of adventure, ranging from when he took her deep-sea fishing and caught a sailfish to when he took a 5-year-old boy alligator hunting and caught one.

“I feel like part of his legacy was he made memories for people,” Friedemann said.

Greg Faull’s death was featured on a Dateline NBC special that aired Friday. According to Dateline, he was found by his caretaker with a gunshot wound in his head. The person-of-interest in the case is John McAfee, founder of McAfee Antivirus Software, who fled Belize to go to Guatemala until being deported to the United States. He now lives in Portland, Ore.

The two men, who according to Dateline, had bickered several times over McAfee’s several dogs and armed security guards outside his home, were neighbors in Belize.

McAfee maintains that he had nothing to do with the attack and is offering a $25,000 reward in Belize currency to anyone who has information about who is responsible.

Mollie Helfant, a former Valencia student, worked at Tailgaters for three years with Greg Faull, and in that time she grew close with him outside of work as Campbell did. Not only did she consider him more of a friend than a boss, but along the way she learned from him valuable life lessons.

“He made me realize that it’s not all about making other people happy all the time, [you have to] make yourself happy too,” she said. “He didn’t worry too much about what other people thought.”

Tailgaters Smokehouse closed at the end of 2012 but Faull’s legacy will live on at UCF. His family is establishing the Gregory V. Faull Memorial Fund, which will be a scholarship for UCF students.

Contributions to the fund can be sent to 12424 Research Parkway, Ste. 250, Orlando, Fla, 32826, or can be done online at giving.ucffoundation.org/gregory-faull-memorial.