Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2005
the selma times-journal
Most afternoons, Major Grumbles was a hub of activity.
At lunch time, the restaurant quickly filled with a mix of Selma’s working class and business elite, all chowing down on the famous Major Grumbles sandwiches and salads.
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Now, after nearly 20 years of serving lunch and dinner to Selma, the owners have decided to close the kitchen.
Howard Strickland, the building’s owner, said the doors to Major Grumbles were closed for the last time on Friday, even though the sign outside says it is simply closed for vacation.
Strickland said his daughter, Misti Fredrickson, who owned Major Grumbles for 10 years, is “flat worn out” with the restaurant business.
“You’ve never seen anything as demanding as a restaurant,” he said. “It’s terribly hard work, but it is very rewarding.”
Strickland said the family-owned business is now up for sale, and he is hoping to find someone willing to bring Major Grumbles back to life.
“If not, I may renovate it (the building) and do something with it,” Strickland said. “We are not vacating Water Avenue.”
Strickland added that he would prefer to find someone to operate Major Grumbles because renovating a building that is more than 100 years old could be a challenge.
“Hopefully, someone will fall into working with us and bring the restaurant back,” he said.
After word of the restaurant’s closing began to spread across town, Strickland said he has been overwhelmed by the number of people who have thanked him and his daughter for operating a quality restaurant for so long.
“I think it will be missed, but there is nothing sad about it,” he said. “Its gratifying to hear all the comments about how much people enjoyed the restaurant.”
If the restaurant is reopened, the new owner will have a built in clientele.
Grumbles had quite a community of regulars.
Former Mayor Joe Smitherman frequented Major Grumbles and could be found many afternoons in the corner of the restaurant
with a group of friends. He called the restaurant a Selma “landmark.”
“It was a place people would hold parties and reunions and they had a room upstairs for meetings,” Smitherman said. “I hate to see it closed.”
Smitherman said it was common to see people from Montgomery make the drive to Selma just to eat at Major Grumbles.
“There was certain atmosphere down there that was attractive,” he said. “They had a unique type of menu, obviously the food was great.”
Ray Hogg of Hogg Engineering Corp. said he has been a regular at the restaurant since it opened in the 1980s.
“What are a lot of people going to do?,” he asked.
Hogg said he knew there had been talk about the restuarant closing, but he said he’s suprised that no one came along to buy the restaurant.
“I’m surpised that the right somebody hasn’t taken her up on her offer because they’ve got a special restaurant. There’s got to be somebody out there that can do it,” Hogg said. “They’ve got a heck of a lunch crowd.”
It seems likely that other local restaurant owners will now begin competing for that lunch crowd.
Bob Kelley, owner of the Tally-Ho, said he will think about what it would take to consider opening his restaurant up for lunch.
“I’m sure that everyone (is) going to be thinking about who is going to fill the void,” Kelley said. “There are business lunches to be had and there are only so many people that can do that.”
Kelley added that he wouldn’t be making any snap decisions but kept his options open.
“I understand the void that the closing of a good restaurant is to a community a size of ours,” Kelley said. ” If I can do anything to fill the void that’s left, I’d definetly consider it.”