Recently I was eating lunch at Buddy's BarBQ. Some of you who were at FGS in Knoxville will remember the great barbecue that was catered at our event at the Museum of Appalachia which came from Buddy's. From where I was seated, I could see the Fazoli's next door. I noticed an orange sign with lettering on it that said "CLOSED" and then had something in too small of print to read from where I was seated. When I went back to my car, I decided to drive to the other side of Buddy's parking lot so I could have a clearer view of the sign. I was curious why Fazoli's was closed. I thought it was just for the day or something, but then I could see that the smaller print said, "Thank you for 20 years of business." I was quite surprised that it had closed down. I remember seeing cars in the parking lot fairly recently so I knew it had not been closed long. I googled and found that the rumor is that a Backyard Burgers will be taking its place. (Personally, I'd rather have a Five Guys.)
However, I began to think about the nearby town of Jefferson City where I work. There are several long time restaurants that have closed their doors forever in the time that I have been working there: Pops (which was a big hangout for teens), Kay's Ice Cream (an institution that had one of those old signs that you just love), the Cookhouse (which had been there a long time and served homestyle food), and even the Krystal (which always did great business with the college students because of those low cost square burgers on rolls). On the road to Knoxville, Helma's (another one of those roadside diners of a bygone era) closed, reopened under different management, closed again, was renamed, etc.
Then I thought back to the town in which I grew up (Amory, Mississippi). I'm happy to say that most of the restaurants I remembered most are still around -- Bill's Hamburgers (which has been around since the early part of the 20th century), Knight's Drive Inn, the Dairy Kream, Pickle's, Stanford's, the County Barn, Country Boy Hamburgers, the Pizza Inn, Sonic (although it's at a new location). There are a couple of places that are gone. The Fountain Grill was actually torn down to make room for a shopping center with a grocery store even before I graduated from high school. There was a lunch counter in the back of G & Y Drug Store that I loved going to when I was a kid, but it disappeared before I graduated too, I think. The Park Hotel had a restaurant. It closed for a few years, but it's back open again (unless it has closed, and I haven't heard). There were always a few short-lived restaurants, but they didn't stay around long enough to gain a following. Amory's first Kentucky Fried Chicken bit the dust early on because someone battered the chicken in detergent on the opening weekend. There is a new KFC in another location now. There used to be a Coleman's Barbecue in Amory, but it was also gone, possibly before I even entered high school.
Restaurants come and go. It's sad to see some of the hometown ones that have been around for a long time go out of business though.