The new Jefferson's Trenton may make a splash when it opens on Monday, but not the kind that is preceded with a champagne cork popping: The restaurant poised to make history as the first to serve mixed drinks in Dade County will open its doors Jan. 14 serving nothing stronger than that good old Dade standby, sweet tea.
"We don’t have a choice," said general manager Hillary Brown. "They won’t let us.”
Change always seem to come to Dade County more slowly than to other places, particularly as it relates to legalizing alcohol sales and consumption. While neighboring Tennessee and Alabama counties have modernized their old Temperance-era "blue laws," Dade has stubbornly resisted the new permissiveness, maintaining its ban on package sales of distilled alcohol and on Sunday sales of any kind of alcoholic beverage at all.
But Ms. Brown said that for Jefferson's Dade isn't the problem. "We’ve already got all three licenses from the county," she said. Rather, she said, it's a hangup with the Georgia licensing bureaucracy that has prevented Jefferson's from opening with toasts all around. Ms. Brown, who is a niece of restaurant owners Kevin and Gwen Brown, said the licensing process with Dade went smoothly and officials have been accommodating.
The manager could not predict how long it will take Jefferson's to get the green light from Georgia to serve alcohol. Nevertheless, the restaurant will open at 11 a.m. sharp on Monday with its full wing-burger-and-oyster-intensive food menu. It will stage by-invitation-only "soft openings" or dress rehearsals this Saturday and Sunday before opening to the general public for Monday lunch.
Beginning Monday, hours at the new Jefferson's, which is at 4276 Highway 136 West, in the site of the old Randy's Restaurant, are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday; and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Jefferson's is a Southern chain restaurant that originated in Jacksonville, Ala. Kevin and Gwen Brown have operated a Jefferson's franchise in Scottsboro, Ala., for several years. They bought the old Randy's Restaurant building in mid-2018 and have performed extensive renovations on it since then, originally hoping to have it operational by Christmas.
Their niece Hillary, 33, comes to manage the new restaurant from 13 years at Panera Bread. She says that like Panera, Jefferson's will be a nice lunch-and-dinner place for all ages. "It's a family-oriented restaurant," she said. "Whoever comes will come."
Jefferson's Trenton is situated in the unincorporated county just outside the Trenton city limits. Trenton makes its own rules and has allowed restaurants to sell beer and wine since 2010. It is in the process of altering its liquor ordinance to allow hard alcohol by the drink as well, after its 2017 referendum on that question passed.
Dade County approved alcohol of all kinds by the drink in a 2016 referendum but Jefferson's will be the first to serve hard liquor in the county and only the second to serve beer and wine. The first was Geneva's Mtn Top Cafe, which got its beer and wine licenses last summer.