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A pair of sisters is establishing a new family-owned business here that promises to tempt the tummies of area residents.
“Sweet Vidalias” will be opening soon at the Tired Creek Golf Course under the ownership and management of sisters Debbie Hanchey and Karlana Melton.
“We moved up here about four years ago and there just isn’t a variety of good places to eat so we decided we would open this restaurant,” Debbie Hanchey said.
The restaurant business is not new to Karlana Melton, but she has been out of the business for the last 25 years. She was previously associated with an upscale restaurant and later a country style buffet before going to work with the State of Florida’s Department of Highway Safety.
Both sisters worked at D.H.S., with Debbie retiring after 35 years of service and Karlana had an 18-year tenure with the state.
Debbie moved to Cairo to be closer to her daughter, Tasha, who married Wendell Odum of Grady County. Karlana resides in Havana, but would be open to moving closer to her business if it proves to be the success they expect it to be.
The sisters say they plan to serve a little of everything at Sweet Vidalias, but Karlana notes some Italian specialties will be on the menu since none of Grady County’s existing restaurants offer that type of fare.
“We will have a little bit Southern, a little bit upscale. We will offer steaks and salmon and more for dinner along with burgers, sandwiches and salads for lunch,” Debbie said. “We will be changing the menu up to offer items you can’t get anywhere else.” The lunch menu will also include a “Blue Plate” special, she said.
Sweet Vidalias will be open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. for lunch and for dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.
The new restaurant also will have a full bar and the lounge will be open Thursday through Saturday until midnight.
Neither lady has any experience with bar service, but they say they will get good advice and tips from their nephew who previously owned three bars in Tallahassee.
Occasional live entertainment is also in the works for the dinner hours.
On Sundays, the sisters say they plan to offer a Brunch Buffet from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The Sunday brunch buffet will feature popular breakfast items such as French toast and waffles, as well a breakfast casserole, bacon, sausage in addition to a choice of two-three meats, three-four vegetables, salad, dessert, and tea, coffee or lemonade. Bar service will also be available on Sunday afternoon for those interested in a mimosa, bloody Mary or glass of wine with brunch.
The Tired Creek Golf Course ballroom, lounge and 19th Hole were recently completely renovated, but the Sweet Vidalias sisters say they are putting a “woman’s touch” on the interior.
Cairo’s newest eatery is set to open in the next three to four weeks, or sooner if possible, according to the sisters.
Currently, the ladies are seeking workers in all aspects of the business including cooks, bartenders, servers and dishwashers. Those interested in applying for a job are encouraged to call 850-570-4833 to schedule an interview.
The sisters say they plan to utilize the former 19th Hole bar and grill area for lunch service and the ballroom for dinner. However, they are setting up a “cozy corner” of the ballroom for a “family friendly” place to have dinner. Patrons are also welcome to dine alfresco on the north porch of the facility or in the lounge.
Sweet Vidalias will offer curbside pickup and the plan is to eventually offer delivery service. Reservations are accepted but are not necessary. For reservations or curbside pick up call Tired Creek Golf Course at 229-377-4506.
The sisters say their menu will be posted on social media and they also plan to launch a website for the restaurant.
“This is a nice, friendly small town and we want to offer a friendly place to come to enjoy lunch and dinner. We hope everyone will enjoy it,” Debbie said.
The sisters grew up in Tallahassee, but Karlana noted that their grandmother was originally from Cairo. The late Helen Singletary was their grandmother and she left here in the late 1800s when she married and moved to Sneads, Fla., where the sisters’ parents were born and raised before they married and moved to Tallahassee.
Debbie says originally she had read that the A.A. Mixon Building downtown was for sale or lease and she inquired about that property for the restaurant. She says the former Radio Shack store would have required extensive renovations to accommodate the needs of their restaurant. After meeting with Chuck Thomas about that location, he asked if the sisters might be interested in opening their business inside Tired Creek Golf Course. “It is a fabulous location and everyone has been so nice and accommodating to us,” Debbie said.
“We really appreciate the board of Tired Creek Golf Course and Chuck Thomas for giving us the chance to open our restaurant here. We believe it will be good for us and good for them. A win-win for everyone,” Karlana said.
Sweet Vidalias is truly a family affair and Debbie says even her grandchildren will work alongside the sisters in the operation of the new local business.
“Once we open, we invite everyone to come out and see us,” Karlana said.