After hosting friends and dignitaries for a mock run Thursday-Saturday, Wayne and Troy Potter opened Roy’s Grill in Rossville to the public at 6 a.m. Monday.
However, the historic grill that Roy Lewis opened in 1934 on Federal Highway as the third Krystal and first in Georgia has had a makeover.
The Potters have worked almost every day since purchasing the grill in October to open it up to the public. “We’ve had a great response,” Troy Potter said of the mock run. “We had to turn people away because we weren’t open.”
The décor is that of a 1950s diner in the front and the Potters have remodeled the hallway and dining area that once was the old Papa Petty’s Pizza behind Roy’s.
The hallway that joins the restaurant and the dining area is brick and the walls are lined with old pictures of Roy Lewis, the grill and the Ritz Theatre to describe a few.
Mr. Potter said that the grill now has a new roof, and has been re-plumbed, re-wired, refurbished, and new heating and air units added.
Two large flat-screen high-definition televisions are inside the grill and the big multi-colored neon sign out front glows 24/7.
There’s a jukebox, plenty of stainless, black-red-and-white tile throughout and a vintage pay phone. The "Go to church Sunday" sign Roy kept over the door as you exit the grill is still there.
Troy said his father Wayne was the one who wanted to purchase Roy’s and he has been the driving force behind the progress. He said it was important to his father that everything looked just right to make a good first impression. “He had a lot of memories growing up here,” Troy said. “He’s told stories about here and I’ve heard so many about the old Ritz Theatre that was down the road.”
Troy said many of his memories of Roy’s came from trips there with his grandfather Joe Tarvin. “He was a chile eater and he would bring me here,” Troy said.
Mr. Potter said he felt like his father and him were, “On the ground floor of something big in Rossville.”
Mayor Johnny Baker said that every fire has to have a lighter and Roy’s Grill could help ignite a revival in Rossville. “We need to support this; we have plenty of opportunities for more restaurants in
Rossville,” Mayor Baker said.
If the opinions of those who visited the business to eat during the three-day mock run are any indication, Roy’s is off to a fast start.
Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell described her trip to Roy’s for a tour and a meal as “wonderful.” “This is good for Rossville and its going to be the place to eat,” she said. “It’s beautiful, nostalgic and the food is just delicious.”
New Rossville Downtown Development Authority member Betty Geary said Roy’s is going to be the place to be. “Rossville has room to expand and it’s going to come alive again,” she said. “I appreciate the owners investing in Rossville.”
Council member Joyce Wall said she thought author Thomas Wolfe got it all wrong when he said, “You can’t go home again.”
“This is wonderful,” she said. “If you come to Roy’s to eat once you’ll come back again.”
Council member Teddy Harris said the food was fantastic. “I’m hoping Roy’s will bring people to Rossville from Ooltewah, Red Bank, North Chattanooga, Northgate and everywhere,” he said.
Albert Ellis lives in LaFayette, Ga. and owns property in Rossville. He stopped by Friday to try out the food at Roy’s. “I think this is magnificent,” Mr. Ellis said. “This might be a step in the right direction into reviving other things. You know you have to crawl before you can walk.”
Roy’s is open from 6 a.m until 2 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Roy's Grill Facts:
* The original Roy¹s was torn down in 1949 when Chickamauga Avenue (U.S. Highway 27) was widened, and the restaurant was rebuilt nearby.
* Roy¹s was "Happy Days" for Chattanooga-area residents who enjoyed flashing back to the 1950s. It was a hangout for high school students and a popular stop for out-of-state couples who came to Rossville to get married across the street.
* Roy Lewis had a table in the back out of sight where the Rossville Bulldogs football players would leave school and come to eat lunch.
* Portions of the movie “Side Order” were filmed at Roy’s Grill in 2009.