Wednesday, June 6, 2012
For almost 14 years Stan and Karen Kay have been welcoming diners to Old South Restaurant in Rossville with smiles, first-name-basis greetings and home-style cooking.
The location, style, array of Southern food and life experiences have helped create this reality, the Kays said. Those factors are also what has helped them make it through the down economy, what Karen Kay refers to as weathering the storm.
“We are grateful we have stayed consistent with no fluctuations,” she said. “People have to eat, and they know they can come to Old South and get a meat plate with three sides for only $6.50.”
Old South produces a facsimile of what diners would find on Grandma’s table, sticking to the concept that family comes together with food.
Some of the favorites Southern entrées are the homemade meatloaf, country fried steak, creamy chicken casserole, fried okra, Wednesday night spaghetti and, for dessert, a special that’s only served on Thursdays and Fridays: banana pudding, made using a recipe that was passed down through Karen Kay’s family and which has diner Robyn Thomas of Tunnel Hill raving that it is the best she’s ever had.
Thomas works in Chattanooga and comes into the restaurant a several times a week. She said the food, service and hometown feeling bring her back regularly. She’s not the only one that’s hooked. Karen Kay said she has some customers who eat at the restaurant three times a day.
“It’s not just a restaurant, it’s like a home; our customers are like our family, we know their story and they’re important to us,” Kay said.
She smiles as she recollects on the highest compliments she said she’s ever received.
“I had a man come in here one time and say, ‘Go tell my grandmother to come out here, I know she’s back there cooking,” she said.
The restaurant is closed Sunday. Daily specials are posted on Facebook, or visit Oldsouthrestauran... for more information.
In the dining area there is a large handwritten menu with the day’s offerings, and behind the cash register is a portrait of Karen Kay’s late father, Herman Beagles, a former Rossville High School attendee, which she said elicits a lot of conversations and memories from community members. Community is important to the restaurant, which donates to local schools and organizations throughout the year, Kay said.
While many restaurants have high turnover rates with staff, she said part of what sets her restaurant apart is the consistent core set of employees, which keeps standards up. Many of the employees have worked with the restaurant for more than 10 years.
“At Old South you can get a good meal, fair price, from a friendly establishment,” Kay said. “We want our customers to feel like family and we stay consistent. They know they’ll get the same meal at the same price.”
Old South has been voted North Georgia Best of the Best for best dinner under $10 and was a finalist in the best burger, best breakfast and meal for the money categories.