Neon signs still glow and Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson and Jerry Lee Lewis remain on the jukebox. But the Evans Diner is under new ownership.
Bob and Janie Robertson purchased the business on Washington Road in Evans from the U.S. Department of Justice on July 29 for $590,000. The chrome rail-car-style building was forfeited in November as part of former owner Clifford Poston's sentence on 42 federal criminal counts, including conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion.
"I have been watching this property," said Mr. Robertson, who also is the owner of five Huddle Housesin the Carolinas and is president of the Huddle House Franchise Association. "I like the style of it and I like the atmosphere of it. And I was tired of the 24-hours-a-day business. I was ready to do something different."
The Robertsons kept the staff of the classic 1950s-style diner. The employees were hired by the McMillans, who leased the business first from Poston, then the Justice Department. Robertson brought in one of his Huddle House employees, Tamera Peterson, to be the diner's new manager.
"I like it a lot," Peterson said halfway through the first day of business.
Management is not the only change.
The Evans landmark temporarily closed last week while its new owners scrubbed it from top to bottom and repaired nonworking kitchen equipment, Robertson said. He also hired a landscape crew to refurbish the exterior of the restaurant.
Customers can enjoy their old favorites, including burgers and shakes, or new additions. The restaurant now offers steaks and pork chops every day, with other new items.
Robertson's favorite addition to the menu is the daily Blue Plate Specials designed to get lunchtime diners in, fed a good meal and out before their lunch hour is over.
Though the restaurant is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Robertson thinks beyond the daily rituals of running a restaurant. He ponders opening more locations in other cities and around the area, but admits Augusta is a difficult place to find a good location.
"I have lived here my entire life," Robertson said. "I never dreamed Evans would look the way it looks today."
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