Dixie Café set to reopen in downtown Corbin Oct. 8
Dixie Café owner Ed Garr, left, and cook Paula Hummell plan the grand reopening of the restaurant slated for Oct. 8.
After a seven-year absence, one of downtown Corbin's most cherished cultural icons will open its doors again.
The Dixie Café will reopen Oct. 8 and new owner Ed Garr - a former music minister at Grace on the Hill United Methodist Church - said he plans to resurrect more than just the restaurant's signature Dixie Dog or its name.
"It's all about tradition," Garr said Monday, while hastily preparing the restaurant for its grand opening in 55 days. "That's what it's going to say on the back of our shirts. For us, that's what it's about."
Garr said a recent trip to Ohio with his family led to the ultimate decision to buy the Dixie restaurant building from Elizabeth Melo, the owner and operator of Vittorino Cuccinas; an Italian restaurant that occupied the space for a few years before a sudden closure in 2010.
"I had been praying about what God wanted me to do with my future. I fasted and prayed for three days. God told me he wanted me to buy the old Dixie," Garr said.
It's hard to doubt Garr's divine inspiration for the purchase.
After buying the building, he had little money for renovation.
Then, a donor, who Garr has sworn will remain anonymous, came forward with an inexplicable gift - enough money to finish necessary repairs and renovations. It doesn't have to be paid back.
But it wasn't enough to cover everything.
So, volunteers have been coming forward in an effort to get the restaurant open. Painters, plumbers, electrical workers and flooring experts.
"God worked out the details," Garr says. "Things have come together. I think people are just really excited to get The Dixie back."
Garr said he and his wife have the experience necessary to run the restaurant successfully. The two owned and operated restaurants in Greensburg and Campbellsville called The Cozy Café and The Cozy Inn respectively. Garr also worked as a food supervisor for the Marriott hotel chain and similarly at Bellarmine College. All told, he's had about 30 years of experience in the restaurant business.
So what are his plans for The Dixie?
Well, for one thing, it will have a fairly traditional menu: hamburgers, hotdogs, philly sandwiches, fries and coleslaw, etc. There will be daily lunch specials. Currently, the plan is to do meatloaf on Monday, turkey and dressing Tuesday, country fried steak on Wednesday, roast beef Thursday and catfish on Friday.
Every day, The Dixie will serve up authentic homemade pies cooked fresh every morning. Chocolate, butterscotch and coconut cream will always be available, along with a special pie of the day.
The restaurant will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. for breakfast and lunch. Garr said, early on, customers should expect good service, but may have to be patient if they are in a hurry and order something off the grill.
"The menu is what it is. We can only do so much in a small kitchen," Garr said. "If the restaurant is full and you are in a hurry and want a quick lunch, order the special and you can get it in five minutes. Or if you order a Dixie Dog, you can get that pretty quick. If you want something grilled, it will take a little longer."
Speaking of Dixie Dogs, Garr said he's been asked at least 75 times if he will be serving the original Dixie chili. The true recipe, unfortunately, isn't likely to surface anytime soon.
"No, we don't have the original and we understand that. We have several recipes we've put together and we will try to make it as good as the original chili was," Garr said. "We probably can't duplicate it and that's OK. We will try to do the best we can to have good chili. Hopefully, down the road, we will be known for more than just our chili anyway."
And as far as the old athletic memorabilia that used to adorn the walls of The Dixie ... well, Garr is working to secure those items for display again, but if he's unsuccessful he plans to start a new collection from scratch and community donations.
Garr said he started a Facebook page for The Dixie last week and had 300 "likes" within 24 hours. Since, tens of thousands of people have viewed the page and many have left comments.
He said people are literally "waiting in line" to talk to him about the project to reopen The Dixie, a fact he considers flattering and quite surprising.
"I am really overwhelmed by it all," Garr said. "I don't like a lot of attention drawn to myself since in the last couple of years God has humbled me with some situations in my life. I told my wife I feel like a king or something since we decided to do this. Everybody wants to talk to me about it."
Garr said he's glad everyone is excited and that he hopes his restaurant can be a good "shot in the arm" for downtown Corbin.
"I want to bring something back to people they've missed for years and help invest in the downtown area," Garr said.
Terrell Halcomb started what is now known as the Dixie in 1929. Originally it was called The Dixie Billiard Parlor. It moved a decade later, in a single night, to its current location just across the street from where it started. It was last owned by Marsha Trosper who, in 2003, completed a significant renovation of the restaurant that cost around $70,000. The kitchen was moved to the rear and additional seating was added, along with other cosmetic upgrades. When the restaurant closed in 2005, Trosper blamed alcohol sales for luring customers away to restaurants that served liquor by the drink.
Garr said he has no plans to ever serve alcohol at The Dixie as long as he owns it.
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