It's True: Jefferson's Franchise Comes to Dade

August 3, 2018

Hammers are being hoisted at the old Randy’s Restaurant building on Highway 136 West Building. Soon, with any luck, beer mugs will be.


The Planet popped by that locality Thursday afternoon to check out rumors that Randy’s, Dade’s sorely-missed steak-pizza-burger-and-everything-else restaurant, was being transformed into a Jefferson’s, the Alabama-based wing-burger-oyster-and-beer restaurant chain. There The Planet found confirmation in the form of co-owner Kevin Brown, who was working with a crew of carpenters to renovate the building.


“We’re going to tear the back off,” said Brown. “We’ve got to make it look like a Jefferson’s inside.”


Brown said he and his wife, Gwen, owned the Jefferson’s franchise in Scottsboro, Ala., and had been operating it for about five years. The couple reside in Ider, Ala., Now they have bought the Randy’s building and hope to open their second Jefferson’s there in about two months, though Brown warned that construction complications might delay it a bit longer than that.


“This old thing is in pretty rough shape,” said Brown. “If I had the money I’d tear it down and put a new one right yonder, but we’re going to try to make do and see what we can make do with.”


Brown declined to have his photograph taken or to allow The Planet to photograph the restaurant’s interior. “Let me get legal first,” he said, adding his wife was better-looking anyway.


It is Gwen Brown who has been dealing with county officials about liquor licenses and health department requirements, said her husband. The couple had hoped to keep news, gossip and innuendo at a minimum for another month or so, said Brown, but curiosity is fierce and people (including The Planet!) keep stopping by to ask.


The opening of a Jefferson’s is, after all, an event of some moment. It won’t be just another corporate franchise restaurant in Dade but the first establishment in the unincorporated county (Randy’s is just outside the Trenton city limits) to serve mixed drinks.


Voters overwhelmingly okayed liquor by the drink in Dade in November 2016 but the county commission’s restrictive ordinance effectively quashed any attempts to serve until Geneva’s Mtn Top Café on Lookout was granted Dade’s first on-premises license just last month. Geneva’s will only serve beer and wine. But Jefferson’s restaurants in other locations serve distilled spirits as well, and that’s the plan with this one, said Brown.


“It’s a family-style sports bar, is what it is,” said Brown. He added: “We pride ourselves on family more than we do the bar.”


Brown said that when he and Gwen opened their Scottsboro Jefferson’s, the town’s laws allowed them to serve any kind of alcohol but restricted them from doing so on Sunday. Since then, the law has changed to allow for serving all seven days.


Dade’s alcohol ordinance, along with that of Trenton—the city makes its own rules—forbids alcohol sales of any kind on Sunday and Christmas Day. Dade and Trenton have clung tenaciously to their blue laws even as neighboring counties and cities in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama have relinquished theirs.


Brown said his wife was more familiar with Dade’s ordinance and the status of their serving license application than he was but that so far they had gotten more encouragement than otherwise from locals about the new location—particularly from Dade residents who travel to Scottsboro to patronize the Jefferson’s there.


“I’m sure we’ll get some backlash, but we’ve got a bunch of people coming to our store now that are tickled to death that we’re coming,” he said.


It does in fact seem a happy ending for all parties:


Randy and Janice Howard, who worked seven days a week for 35 years operating Randy's, which baked its own bread, made home deliveries, and for decades catered meals at the county jail, making Dade's the most culinarily desirable clink in the tri-state region, are out from under their building and can at last relax into hard-earned retirement;


The county commission, which included seating capacity requirements in its alcohol ordinance to keep small businesses from taking advantage of the new law, but took out its original ban on "happy hour" deals to avoid discouraging big corporate bars, has in fact reaped the corporate chain it was aiming for in allowing the referendum in 2016;


County residents who yearn for a Margarita on the Cinco de Mayo or something sweet, sticky and laced with Kahlúa at Christmas will also get their wish;


And hungry people in Dade and its environs will have one more choice of somewhere to eat, which any would-be out-eater going through the list of Usual Suspects on Date Night will agree is what Mr. Shakespeare called a consummation devoutly to be wished. 


The Planet will continue covering developments in this story.


Note: Jefferson's images in this story from online advertising.

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