By LEAH STRATMANN
With little fanfare, the Red Bay Grocery, which was heavily damaged from a fire in January, reopened last weekend. The structure has undergone some substantial changes from the original. The community owned grocery/restaurant had been open just shy of three years when the fire broke out.
In addition to a new roof and all new wiring, the grocery is now completely handicap accessible due to a concrete front walk which slopes down into the parking area, allowing for wheelchairs to access the ramp at the front door easily. Another addition is a screened-in eating area outside for overflow or for those who prefer to dine al fresco.
Principal owner Charles Morgan said, “We are excited to get the store back open so the community has a place to gather and drink coffee in the morning. We really had the partners pull together and help to get it rebuilt. We owe a great deal of thanks to everybody who helped get the store open so quick. A lot of people showed concern about the store and it made us feel good.”
Indeed the community of owners fed the construction workers during the rebuild and came by offering encouragement and support. Volunteers helped with the cleaning and restoration as well.
There have been some changes inside as well. A large built-in community table runs from front to back, fostering the feeling of family. Stained glass lamps provide a soft glow to the dark shelves housing a myriad of jams, jellies, pickles, and sauces. Another wall of shelves offers grocery goods plus T-shirts, caps, grocery bags, and aprons. At the counter, color prints of the original building drawn by Cyndy Keller are available for sale. Keller had been working on the drawing before the fire and decided to finish it thinking many of the shareholders might want a copy of the store as it was at the beginning.
“I’m just thrilled to death it is open. I had lunch there after church on Sunday. It’s so pretty and everybody is so proud of it,” said Ouida Miller, one of the local women who fed the workers during construction and who is a long term Red Bay resident. “It was too long closed and everybody at church was so happy to hear it was open again,” she said.
The restaurant is under new management and features some menu changes, but the popular all you can eat rib night is still a staple, as are all the popular side dishes.
For more information, visit redbaygrocery.com or call 836-2220.
Leah Stratmann may be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org