Written by Owen Covington, Reporter – Triad Business Journal
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A star from his days as Cliff Clavin in the TV hit “Cheers,” and later as the voice of Hamm the Piggy Bank in the “Toy Story” trilogy, John Ratzenberger is used to everyone knowing his name no matter where he goes.
“I go to strange places I’ve never been before, and somebody walks up and all of a sudden you’ve got an instant friend,” Ratzenberger told the Winston-Salem Journal during an interview Thursday.
Ratzenberger, 68, has been in the area for the filming of the film “Shifting Gears,” directed by Jason Winn and also starring R. Keith Harris. He visited the Journal Thursday to provide national commentary for Fox Business Network and took time to talk with a reporter with the newspaper while there.
The movie, which has been in production since mid-March, tells the story of a man who tries to reconnect with his family by taking over his late father’s business — an old service station in rural North Carolina — and also gets involved in his father’s side business of dirt track racing. Ratzenberger plays Conrad Baines, a rich local who plans to buy the property and tear down the garage so he can build a retail superstore.
He told the Journal he’s enjoyed his time in the Triad, and named among his favorite restaurants in the area Mary’s Gourmet Diner and Sweet Potatoes in Winston-Salem, Undercurrent Restaurant in Greensboro and Phil’s Bar-B-Que Pit in Asheville.