“Welcome to Steak ’n Shake.”
With those words, hostess Sissy Morris greeted diners to the burger restaurant that opened Thursday in Columbia County after months of anticipation.
“We’re all excited,” Morris said. “We’ve been waiting for this.”
By 10 a.m., a large crowd had gathered outside the area’s first Steak ’n Shake, off Jimmie Dyess Parkway near Interstate 20.
Vehicles snaked around the parking lot in the drive-through line as customers waited to place their orders.
Joyce and Willie Grammar, of Hephzibah, were among those standing in line to be seated inside the restaurant.
The couple arrived at 8:30 a.m., but were told the Steak ’n Shake wouldn’t open until 10 a.m. They returned about an hour later.
As they sat in a booth waiting for their food, Joyce Grammar said she’d never eaten at a Steak ’n Shake even though there were several in her home state of Missouri.
About a month ago, she heard on the news that the fast-food restaurant would be coming to the area.
“Every day, we drove by and I said it’s getting closer and closer,” she said. “I’m going to bring my grandkids.”
The restaurant, which specializes in steakburgers and milkshakes, was quickly filling by 10:30 a.m.
The restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. through this year, when the hours change to 24/7.
For the first two to three weeks, it will not offer carry-out service so employees can focus on customers dining in and ordering in the drive-through line.