Hungry Dearing residents beware. Home cooked meals are on the way.
Ray Bass decided his love of cooking could help feed the south McDuffie town that for so long has been void of a restaurant variety.
He sold his trucking business after more than 30 years of driving, and used the money to buy and renovate the former Flower Box Florist across the street from city hall. The new restaurant - which is set to open Friday - is called the Old Time Café.
"I used to go with my dad to the country stores, and you would see all the old men sitting around telling their stories," Mr. Bass said. "We kind of wanted to give that to Dearing, where people could come in and sit, claim their own tables."
The restaurant began as a retirement project on a somewhat smaller scale. Mr. Bass - a Dearing resident for four years - said the search for a way to cook after being on the road for years grew into what the Old Time Café has become from an unusual beginning.
"I just figured I wanted to stay home, and my wife said something about opening a taco stand," he said. "But we couldn't find quite the building, and it just so happened Mrs. Reeves (of Flower Box) put up a sign that she was going out of business. We went and talked to her, and everything built up from there."
The building was remodeled by Mr. Bass, his wife, daughter and son-in-law who will help with the business. It will have patio seating in the front, and inside are six booths, four tables and a counter with stools.
The Old Time Café will serve country food for breakfast, dinner and supper "the old time way," Mr. Bass said.
The restaurant will have fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, cabbage, green beans, hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue and specials cooked hot and fresh every day.
"Being on the road, they've done away with all the good restaurants and cooking. They've made it all fast food," Mr. Bass said. "Man I hate fast food. I want some good greens and good wholesome meals."
The restaurant will be open Monday through Saturday 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The debut of the Old Time Café came much earlier than expected though. On May 7, Mr. Bass' family participated in Miss Allene's Burger Battle at the Dearing Mayfest.
Despite the fact that they hadn't begun remodeling the building, customers wanted shirts displaying the restaurants' logo. Customers at the Mayfest also snatched up all of the Old Time Café's hamburgers even though they cooked 80 lbs. of meat.
For the café's proprietors, that was a promising start to what they hope is many years of feeding the Dearing community.