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Downtown Cairo will soon be the destination for some out-of-this-world French fries and a game of billiards.
A veteran pool room, bar and grill operator is busy at work preparing for the opening of “Punky’s” in the former Radio Shack store at 141 South Broad Street.
Robert Long, formerly of Winter Haven, Fla., is in the process of remodeling the A.A. Mixon Building downtown for his new business.
“I had a similar business in Winter Haven for 35 years until a man came in and offered me good money for it and I sold it four years ago,” Long said.
The new Cairo businessman says he plans to model his operation here after his successful business in Florida, albeit on a smaller scale.
“In Winter Haven, I had 20 pool tables and a 65-foot bar. Here we will have three pool tables to begin with,” Long said.
In addition to billiards, Long will be serving up popular short order food items including burgers, sandwiches, wings and his French fries, which he says he is known for.
“Once you taste them, you’ll love them,” he said.
In addition to regular fries, he also serves cheese fries and bacon/cheese fries.
Robert and his wife Cindy moved to Grady County in May 2020 at the urging of their daughter, Dr. Robyn Long, who is associated with Cairo Medical Care and is a member of the medical staff of Grady General Hospital. Cindy Long also works in the Emergency Room Department of the local hospital, but will be working after hours with her husband in the new business.
Robert Long, 67, says he was not ready to retire when he sold his business and after his daughter completed her residency at Quillen College of Medicine – East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn. and she got the job here and moved to Grady County.
Long’s business name, Punky’s, is his nickname for his daughter. “That’s what I’ve called her all her life,” he said. So it is only fitting the new business is named for her.
“Until I see just what we’ve got and how I want it set up, we will probably start out with about 25 seats plus the bar. I may utilize the upstairs as the business grows if I see I need it,” Long said.
He plans to maintain entrances on Oliver Lane as well as South Broad Street since the majority of the parking is available off Oliver Lane.
Since moving to the community last May, Long says he has been “goofing off” and piddled with 60 pecan trees that are on the family’s property. “My daughter encouraged me to open up this business,” he said.
Long, a native of Tennessee, grew up in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., which is located near the Tennessee – Alabama border. He followed his brother to Winter Haven 38 years ago and he had a successful business there for 35 years. The operation he sold, Family Billiards, continues to operate to this day.
“We’ve got to see what’s going on with this pandemic, but I hope we can open in about two months if we can get everyone vaccinated,” Long said.
While the official opening is yet to be determined, Long says he will also be flexible in establishing his hours once he opens. His goal is to be open seven days a week, but not opening until 1 p.m. on Sundays.
“I’m right back at it again,” Long said this week while taking a break from his remodeling work. He said he is looking forward to meeting more folks and welcoming them to “Punky’s” for some good food and fun.
Watch The Messenger for more information about the new billiard parlor and grill in the coming months.