The original owners of The Oaks Restaurant have returned to the popular Marianna eatery.
Jo and Eddie Davis closed on their repurchase deal Wednesday, but they had their crew busy for three days ahead of that, getting the place back to the look it had during their time at the helm, the first time around, a period which saw five expansions of the restaurant’s footprint and the addition of some farm-related merchandise, like pairs of leather work gloves, take-home fresh tomatoes, bags of shelled pecans, honey, and more.
The restaurant now seats up to 340 people at a time, and on a good day the tables have at least three rounds of customers. Those good days were many over the years. They were “overrun” with customers almost from the day they opened with a small sign in the window marking their arrival on Dec. 17, 2007, Mr. Davis said. The traffic hadn’t let up by the time they decided to retire from the business and sold it in May of 2018.
The couple had opened The Oaks café in featuring buffet lunches with huge trays of fried chicken, other meats, assorted Southern-style vegetables and a dessert station during the week, and special seafood offerings on Tuesday nights. They’ll return to that old menu in hopes of capturing all those old customers, as well, and Eddie Davis and his son will return to their practice of cutting all the Angus “Choice-to-Prime”- grade steaks and other meats on the menu. The restaurant will be open Monday-Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
By Thursday morning, the place was also decorated for Valentine’s Day. Among those decorations was a small framed chalkboard with a bright, glittering red heart attached. A message was written in white across the blackboard: “Welcome Back Jo and Eddie,” it read. Smiling employees were on a busy pace that day, but Jenni Roberts paused to share her thoughts on the return of the couple she’d started working for in 2010. “They’re like family to me,” she said. “My boys are 17 and 15 now, but they grew up while I was working right here. They treated my kids like family. I’m glad to see the back, glad to be working with them again.”
And in the restaurant at the lunch hour, 88-year-old customer Billy Retherford was seated for his meal and chatting with Mr. Davis. He’s been a customer of the couple at their various restaurants for decades. He was happy to see the return of his long-time friends.
He knew them and was a frequent patron when they opened their first eateries, The Chuck Wagon, in Chipley, and the Chipola Livestock Market café.
“It’s the best you can ever get,” he said of the Davis fare. “I brought everybody I knew here and I can feel a change already, now that they’re back. I’m a happy man.”