published Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Revival of Roy's Grill in Rossville, Ga., short-lived

by Andy Johns
A bicyclist and motorists travel Rossville Boulevard on Monday past the closed Roy’s Grill.
A bicyclist and motorists travel Rossville Boulevard on Monday past the closed Roy’s Grill.
Photo by John Rawlston.
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  • Roy's Grill is cooking again
    After being sidelined for several years, Roy's Grill is operating again along U.S. 27 in Rossville, Ga.
  • Sept. 21, 2010 -- City leaders announce purchase of Roy's and surrounding acres for $110,000

  • Oct. 26, 2010 -- Potters buy Roy's building for $50,000

  • Jan. 24, 2011 -- Roy's opens to the public

  • July 23, 2011 -- Roy's closes

Source: Newspaper archives

After $275,000 in renovations and six months of serving burgers, the current incarnation of Roy's Grill in Rossville has shut off its neon lights.

The iconic U.S. Highway 27 diner, which was given government incentives and seen as a key piece to Rossville's rebirth, closed its door Saturday.

But the owner already was meeting with Chattanooga restaurateurs Monday in hopes someone else will reopen the diner in a matter of days.

"We weren't able to make the numbers work," said Troy Potter, a developer whose family made Roy's their batter-fried first foray into the food business. "I'm about numbers. That's all it is. We felt like we gave it our best shot."

A reborn Roy's had factored significantly into a grand plan for Rossville's downtown that includes an area for a farmers market, a park and a "gateway" pedestrian bridge at the state line.

Rossville Mayor Johnny Baker said he was sad to know no more hamburgers would be coming off the grill.

"I'm saddened, naturally, by its closing," the mayor said. "The food was great, and it was a beautiful place. In my opinion there was a need for that type place."

He remained hopeful that the city and the Downtown Development Authority would continue with revitalization plans.

City leaders bought the building and 1.2 acres around it for $110,000, pulling money from the town's reserves. The city then deeded the property to the Downtown Development Authority, which sold the building to the Potters for $50,000. The city will keep a triangle-shaped plot next to Roy's for a park and use the rest of the land as a parking lot.

At that time, everyone was thinking big. The Potters said they expected to put $275,000 into the project, and they asked the city for a 10-year tax abatement and 20-year agreement on the use of a parking lot.

City and county leaders also had high hopes for the restaurant. Rossville work crews demolished a collapsed building and paved the parking lot behind it. Under an agreement with the Potters, the city is responsible for maintaining a lighted lot behind the restaurant and three spaces on West Gordon Avenue for Roy's customers.

Walker County officials have declared the building an "enterprise zone," part of a state program with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs that gives incentives to owners of property in areas of poverty, high unemployment and "general distress and adverse conditions."

On Monday staff members at Roy's who declined to be identified said the diner had closed because it was in a bad location and was not getting enough business.

Potter said, however, that there were bigger forces at work.

"I just think the economy is in the tank," Potter explained. "Nobody has any excess money to do anything. You can't force people to come out."

Annika Stensson, spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association, said the economy "certainly has made for some tough times for the restaurant industry for the past several years."

"As consumers' cash-on-hand gets tighter, they are more cautious with their spending, including at restaurants," she said. "Challenges remain for many operators, as the economy is struggling to get back on track."

Generally, she said, diners and fast-casual restaurants such as Roy's have performed better during the recession than more expensive eateries.

Nationwide, restaurateurs are less optimistic about growth now than they were at the beginning of the year. A study from Stensson's organization released in January showed 55 percent of restaurant operators expected sales to increase in the next six months and only 8 percent expected a decrease. Asked the same question for a more recent study released at the end of June, only 41 percent expected sales to increase, and 20 percent expected a decline.

"Everybody's had to tighten their belts," Potter said. "It would have been nice for Roy's to have been profitable. You never know until you open it up."

Contact staff writer Andy Johns at or 423-757-6324.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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harrystatel said...

Another failed public/private business using taxpayer's money.

Who made money on this deal? That's always the question when government is involved.

As we've learned in Chattanooga there's political sycophants with full pockets every time one of these bailouts and business welfare escapades occurs.

Is Littlefield and posse working Georgia now?

July 26, 2011 at 6:13 a.m.
TracieBierman said...

Every single person I've spoken to about Roy's gave a bad review. The food wasn't good. You can't expect a restaurant to make it if the food isn't good. It's as simple as that. Maybe the next owners will put out stuff that will keep the customers coming back for more. This has little to do with the poor economy and much to do with Roy's not serving good meals. If it's good, the hungry will be there, and they will tell their friends, then the friends will be there too.

July 26, 2011 at 6:44 a.m.
aflyingtiger said...

I agree with TracieBierman. The quality of the food and the selection was poor. After taking a customer to lunch there we both decided that one trip was plenty. The facilities were fine. I hope for Rossville's sake that someone else will give it a try.

July 26, 2011 at 9:14 a.m.
lcoffey1 said...

The reason Roys failed is more complex than the economy. The main reason it closed was the owners lack of commitment to the project. The second reason is the hostile enviromebt created by the city. People do not want to or are afraid to stop in Rossville. The third reason is they did not have excellent food. Good food is not good enough. You have to have excellent food. The forth reason was strait up arrogance. One of the few times I was in there a waitress was explaining to Wayne Potter how it was better to leave condiments on the side instead of putting them on the food. His response was do it the way I want or I will find someone that will.

Maybe the potters were not cut out for that kind of business. I know they put a lot of theirs and the city's money in that place. The potters definitely lost money and that is unfortunate.

July 26, 2011 at 10:57 a.m.
eastridge8 said...

We used to live near the Potters...Icoffey1 is correct about the arrogance part...

July 26, 2011 at 11:20 a.m.
cc333 said...

Sad but...too expensive, IMO. And they had NO vegetarian options to speak of...Rossville IS a great lil town & someone else who knows what they're doing will make it. It's rare that a new small business makes it into the black the 1st year,much less in 6 months!

July 26, 2011 at 2:53 p.m.
paulamemecoll said...

Nothing and I mean NOTHING is going to make it in Rossville. Where the city and county money goes is anybody' guess. This town has been trying to make what they call a comeback for years. But look around and it is the same old junk nasty town. I do recall the days of shopping in downtown Rossville. However, that was when the so called fathers of the town cared. I have not looked into it but, do the town running ppl live in Rossville? If so and they like what they live in, then maybe it's time to get some clean folks in there. I really don't know what this city does or where the money goes. I do pay Walker County Taxes. I also lock my doors when I drive through Rossville and I never go to the Bi-Lo after dark. Just drive down the streets and look at the trash. Time to get up off your butts and show some care for where you live and work. I keep my yard and house clean. However, I don't fix things up so much as to give the thugs a second look. What a shame and shame on you City of Rossville.

July 26, 2011 at 3:39 p.m.
onetinsoldier said...

Rossville has been on a downward path for many years. It no longer has schools, businesses, or a worthwhile City Government. What it has are transients, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, pawn shops, cash advance predators, and lotto. At the front of this menagerie is Johnny Baker and his council of conservative values that have brought us this downward spiral. Our city politicians have had no success. The only thing accomlished in Rossville in the last ten years is the repaving of McFarland Ave. but what they won't openly admit or discuss, is that this accomplishment came from the Obama stimulus plan. It took a black President from Chicago to fix our main street. Rossville, you are reaping the rewards of your continued support of the conservative agenda and uneducated politicians. The conservative agenda has done more harm to North Georgia than Sherman.

July 26, 2011 at 4:36 p.m.
harrystatel said...

"The conservative agenda has done more harm to North Georgia than Sherman."

It's not the conservative agenda. Nor is it the liberal agenda.

Like Chattanooga, it's the CORRUPT agenda.

July 26, 2011 at 4:41 p.m.
onetinsoldier said...

On the subject of Wayne Potter, you are absolutely right about him Jack. When he bought the Country Aire Apartments on James St. he illegally forced some tenants with current valid leases to sign new leases that no longer covered their utilities. He had the least among us at his mercy and took advantage because he could get away with it knowing those he was cheating weren't smart enough to stop him. Predators like him own most of Rossville. It is no wonder Roys under Mr. Potter went under because anyone that knows him avoids him and his businesses.

July 26, 2011 at 5:23 p.m.
lcoffey1 said...

Alll I have to say about these past few post is. The election is in November. Les Coffey for mayor

July 26, 2011 at 6 p.m.
onetinsoldier said...

Les coffey, the citizens of Rossville would be better off if you were to fall from the face of the planet. Pay your taxes you dead beat. It is nice to hear that you have been locked out of the mill. The sooner you are gone the better. Rossville is not short on idiots and your services aren't needed.

July 26, 2011 at 6:05 p.m.
littleoleme said...

And right on cue enters Les Coffey attempting to earn himself a view votes when he incorrectly assumes the tide may turn in his favor. You're a pretty slimy fella, Les Coffey. But then again, I suspect you already knew that.

July 26, 2011 at 7:48 p.m.
lcoffey1 said...

You guys do not know me you only know what little you hear. The courts will deal with Rossville and the taxes. I am not sure where the rumor that I was locked out of Peerless got started as I have an apartment there. Have the key to it. Rossville Metals is there. Anyhow the amount wasted on Roys is more than the taxes Peerless owes.

Let's get back on subject here and talk about how the city shot over 100,000 dollars on Roys for it to be open only 6 months

July 26, 2011 at 8:44 p.m.
littleoleme said...

That rumor was posted on John Ross' Facebook page by one of his "friends" on a link that he posted that Rossville Metals was going to lease space in Chattanooga. So if Rossville Metals is still at the Peerless, it doesn't sound like you plan on it being there much longer.

As far as this getting off-topic, you're the one who decided to hijack it with your own political self-promotion. I've read your commentaries all over the place so my belief that you're slimy comes from what I know about you from you, yourself, and not based on anything I've "heard" from anybody else.

And before you go off on some tangent assuming that I'm a fan of Rossville City politics, think again. Their decision to sink money into Roy's with taxpayer money stinks to high heaven.

July 26, 2011 at 9:02 p.m.
lcoffey1 said...

Sounds like you are sick of it all tne roys deal as well as the peerless deal and should be. I would be perfectly happy for there to be a positive change and I not be involved.

As for leasing space we did get space in Chattanooga. We also got space in June in Memphis. Was looking at space in Dalton a few months back. I am in Atlanta now working on space. So if someone took that we acquired space elsewhere as meaning Rossville metals moved out of Rossville they are wrong. Rossville Metals has a 20 year lease at Peerless and we intend on using all 20 years.

The bottom line is Rossville wasted tax dollars on Roys. They created a bad situation with me at Peerless. I am just the messenger the one guy that had the guts to stand up. So don't shoot me for speaking out about the truth. Hopefully I have made enough people mad that they will force a positive change

July 26, 2011 at 10:25 p.m.
lcoffey1 said...

Jack. It does stink. There was pay offs and kick back left and right on that deal.

July 27, 2011 at 9:05 a.m.
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