New face at Grumbles Alley

Published 8:35 am Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ray Brown puts some finishing touches on the wall near the breaker box Friday as he completed the renovations at The Restaurant on Gumbles' Alley. -- Leesha Faulkner photo

Dianne Smitherman served up sawdust and paint rather than drinks and food at The Restaurant on Grumble’s Alley last week.
Smitherman, who owns the restaurant, dug in deep and gave it a facelift last week, stripping the wall down to brick on one end and giving other walls a fresh coat of paint in the dining area.
The restaurant opens again Monday for lunch and dinner. Diners will get more surprises from the facelift, she promises.
“It was time to do something,” Smitherman said, as she scurried around a nearly empty dining room. “There’s so much going on behind us with the park, I thought it would be a good time to give this more of a river look.”
And that’s what she has accomplished, pulling out the bar and installing new shelving.
The restaurant hasn’t undergone a renovation in about a quarter of a century, according to Martha P. Strickland, who once owned the place with her husband, Howard.
“She has a lot of courage to do this,” Strickland said.
Smitherman hopes the renovation will encourage people to come down to her site on Water Avenue and partake of the fare, which isn’t likely to change much.
“I may add a few things, but none of the sandwiches will change,” she said of customer favorites.
The week’s worth of work wasn’t without its surprises. Fortunately, Smitherman said, plenty of friends around town had the supplies and the skills to get the project over any humps.
“It’s great to be in a small town. I had a lot of help from local people,” she said. “I could not — repeat — could not have done it without them, from refrigeration people to PepsiCo. I am so glad I went local with Pepsi.”
Smitherman decided a local renovation meant doing business with local people. Everything except the carpet was purchased locally.
“NTL, Carpet Plus and Cover It — Chris, Diana and Nat — were absolutely wonderful,” she said. “They were fantastic. Them, and my dear friend, Paul.”
Smitherman is convinced if Selma would buy Selma, it might make a difference.
“We have to help out each other,” she said. “That’s how we will survive.”
Smitherman looked around the disheveled dining room.
“I don’t have much time,” she said. “But I think you’ll like the changes. Come on in Monday and tell me what you think.”

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