RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – After a fire this past June destroyed the Old South Restaurant in Russellville, orders are almost up again at its new location.
The new Old South Restaurant will be located at 105 East Harrell Drive where the old Dixie Cafe was.
“We’re trying to get open as fast as we can,” Zach Summitt, who co-owns Old South Restaurant with his father, said.
Summit said he is positive they will be open before November but hoping for the first week in October.
A fresh coat of paint on the outside and lots of hard work on the inside is the secret ingredient to extinguish the tragic memories of seeing the charred remains of the restaurant that stood since 1947.
“Can’t replace the memories over there. We’ll just have to make some new ones over here,” Summitt said.
Seven decades after it first opened, the spirit of this business still lives. Summit says the challenge that they’re facing is finding ways to bring that Old South feeling into a new building after nearly everything burned.
The memories from going to the Old South for “first dates and wedding rehearsals,” live with customers for years.
“50 years ago, people would come in and talk about how I sat in that booth when I was 3 years old,” Summitt said.
The only thing left at the location where the Old South Restaurant stood on East Main Street is a piece of the signage.
The big road sign is gone, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see it again.
Summitt said the big road sign was one of the only things that wasn’t damaged in the fire.
“We’re going to try to hang it on the front of the building to try to bring some continuity over,” Summitt said.
He said the people are what made Old South, Old South.
When it burned, donations from the community poured in. Summitt made sure that the 60-thousand dollars in donations went to his staff who were left jobless.
He’s glad many from the old staff are coming back because that’ll help with making it feel like old times.
The sign will do that for the outside, but he said they are still working on what the inside is going to look like.
“We’re working on refurbishing the stools from the old restaurant,” Summit said. “They were metal, so they survived somewhat out of the fire.”
The Old South crew is doing all that’s possible to keep the rich past of the Old South present.
“We don’t want to forget that building,” Summit said. “That was a piece of Russellville for 75 years.”
And a bigger building means more work so Old South is looking for workers.
Those interested in applying can stop by to fill out an application at the new location from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.