Augusta Economy

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Al's Family Restaurant, longtime North Augusta institution, closes

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Al’s Family Restaurant has closed, and its owner blames the poor economy.

“The economy bites the bullet on another one,” said Butch Bone, the owner of the North Augusta restaurant, which has been at 661 Atomic Road, since 1978.

In the past two years, Bone said, he has had to cut his staff from 28 employees to just nine.

Bone said he made the decision Sunday to close the restaurant. He’ll continue to operate his catering business out of Sportman’s Barbecue, which is owned by his family, on Martintown Road in Clarks Hill, S.C.

Bone owns the Al’s property but has no immediate plans for it, he said.

“I’m going to miss doing business in North Augusta,” Bone said.

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Ginot
162
Points
Ginot 02/18/13 - 08:28 pm
6
17
Economy?

Maybe it was the lousy food....

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 02/18/13 - 08:39 pm
0
0
I think the
Unpublished

democrats are right. Unskilled labor should be rewarded. Make the minimum wage $45.00 an hour. This way a MacDonalds burger, fries and a coke should cost $125.00. Add $20.00 for ketchup wid dem fries.

southern2
7092
Points
southern2 02/18/13 - 08:54 pm
11
7
Sorry to hear about

Sorry to hear about this....Such a unique eating place. Only resturant I know that served hog jowls. Always generous portions at a fair price. Obama and Dems are killing small business everywhere.

griff6035
4223
Points
griff6035 02/18/13 - 09:27 pm
17
3
Food

Food was very good, at a good price Ginot. Don't know why you made that comment but it was uncalled for.

dixieshicksa
50
Points
dixieshicksa 02/18/13 - 10:32 pm
12
1
Say it isn't so!!!

This is such sad news. Thanks Al and family for those many years of fantastic "down home" meals. Best fried chicken, pork chops, and creamed corn in the CSRA. We'll miss you.

sand gnat
636
Points
sand gnat 02/18/13 - 10:52 pm
8
1
Years ago

Years ago, wasn't Al the same gentleman that ran LaFran's? I'm going back to the 60's. Larry Jon Wilson (RIP) recorded a song entitled "Friday Night Fight At Al's Place" a few years ago that brought back memories of pin ball machines and draft beer.

Ginot
162
Points
Ginot 02/19/13 - 12:18 am
11
6
?

I Made the comment because it's my opinion, never had a decent meal in the dozen or so times I went.... You don't have to agree with my opinion, but you certainly won't deny me the right to have it....

Ja Lob
22
Points
Ja Lob 02/19/13 - 12:50 am
18
3
re Ginot

Ginot: obviously it wasn't too bad since you went back "a dozen or so times"

Ginot
162
Points
Ginot 02/19/13 - 12:54 am
9
8
?

Is this jump on peoples opinion night? I had no choice, a company I dealt with kept having meetings there until enough people complained.... Once again, in my opinion, the food was lousy....

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 02/19/13 - 06:44 am
0
0
Their food was ok... service
Unpublished

Their food was ok... service was ok - neither were outstanding. I had work done to my truck this past Saturday in the area and was going to walk to get lunch. I had a conversation with the place working on my truck and they recommended BJ's and mentioned that BJ's buffet was taking a lot of Al's business. So far I can see why- cheap buffet with the same type food that is on a main drag. Since Al's is kinda off the beaten path it would have been better that they relocate to the Martintown Rd. where they could be seen by the people passing by.

CobaltGeorge
170598
Points
CobaltGeorge 02/19/13 - 04:16 pm
9
2
Shame!

Just a 520 step walking distance from my VP Office. Have eaten there hundreds of times. Pork Chops out of this world. Remember, food tastes different to every human.

soapy_725
43963
Points
soapy_725 02/19/13 - 07:50 am
0
0
More to come. This trend of operating with
Unpublished

fewer employees is taking its toll on many restaurants. Half cooked food, over cooked food, cold steam tables resulting in request for food to be microwaved. And the prices continue to rise. Three course meals, take home meals added. The same menu at so many franchise locations. Casual dining with adult beverage is the fastest growing and their menus resemble those of Mexican restaurants. The same everywhere. Golden Corral, if you are a fan, offers every kind of food for one price. Kids, adults, seniors can find their favorites. Such as they are. Pop Eyes has great chicken but their work system and employees are constantly in total confusion. Everywhere, not just in Augusta.

curly123053
5187
Points
curly123053 02/19/13 - 07:50 am
11
7
Thanks Obamacare !

Al's was the ONLY place in Aiken County for good, down to earth country cooking. Anyone who did not like it were probably 4expecting fine dining such some chains serve. But at Al's it was good country cooking in a real laid back atmosphere which people liked. I for one will miss Al's and hope that another good laid back country cooking restaurant can fill the void. Unfortunately we will be seeing more family run businesses fall victim to the economy with the ObamaTaxes of Obamacare ramping up.

etlinks
23419
Points
etlinks 02/19/13 - 07:51 am
7
2
This place is packed for

This place is packed for breakfast and lunch mon.-sat. so the food must appeal to some people. Very sad news.

soapy_725
43963
Points
soapy_725 02/19/13 - 07:55 am
0
0
Wally World will be the next to move
Unpublished

into the restaurant business. Wally World "rolling restaurant vans". Street Eats. Deep fried pork bellies. Triple bacon sandwiches. Eliminate the middle man. Or maybe Wally World knows something about marketing? Gas yes. Fast food not.

JRC2024
9998
Points
JRC2024 02/19/13 - 08:01 am
5
2
I liked it when I went there.

I liked it when I went there. Food costs keep going up and there is so much his patrons were able to pay. The profit was squeezed out. I know the feeling. Last year my insurance on workers was 33% on every dollar of wages, now it is 90% and next year it will be 125%. I am glad I planned for retirement for 42 years. Maybe I will have to do it before I want to.

GnipGnop
12692
Points
GnipGnop 02/19/13 - 08:04 am
5
5
More....

Change you can believe in?

seenitB4
93816
Points
seenitB4 02/19/13 - 08:08 am
3
1
Sorry to hear this

Just like Cgee said....different strokes for different folks...some love this place.

Little Lamb
48005
Points
Little Lamb 02/19/13 - 08:15 am
3
1
Insurance

What kind of insurance, JRC? Are you talking employee health insurance or general liability? In any case, given the numbers you provided, I can see how business owners are being squeezed as never before. Thanks for hanging in there, but everyone has to pull the plug at some point.

nocnoc
47357
Points
nocnoc 02/19/13 - 08:38 am
6
1
Use to eat there at least

Use to eat there at least twice a month for years.
But fianally gave up on Big Al's a few years ago because the
service and the food quality kept dropping.

La'Frans that use to be around the corner behind the old BiLo was another good place to eat at one time.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 02/19/13 - 09:03 am
0
0
When I
Unpublished

lived in North Augusta, I ate there every day. Good food, portions, a pitcher of tea, dessert and your bill in an orderly time.

dwb619
101119
Points
dwb619 02/19/13 - 09:30 am
7
0
LarFrans

Was an acronym for the two owners first names,Larry and Frank.
One of these was Mr. Bones father.
BEST hamburgers ever.

Sallierue
12
Points
Sallierue 02/19/13 - 09:45 am
9
0
HAPPY MEMORIES

For many years Al's was where my mom wanted to go, anytime she had an opportunity. Last year we even had her 92nd birthday party there. Al's made her favorite foods and Elvis even showed up to entertain. She was surprised and happy. The last thing she said as we were leaving was, "If I'm still around next year I want to do the same thing!". I guess we will have to make another plan for this year because she is here. She loved the Bone family and they loved her. When she could no longer drive, they offered to bring her anything she wanted. The owner's of Al's treated customers like family. They they are good people and will be missed. The end of an era.

etlinks
23419
Points
etlinks 02/19/13 - 09:52 am
4
0
I wonder if BJ's country

I wonder if BJ's country buffet right down the street had something to do with them closing. BJ's is crowded everyday and the food is good.

Thethirdjq
214
Points
Thethirdjq 02/19/13 - 09:54 am
6
1
I ate here about 10 years ago

I ate here about 10 years ago and had a great experience. It was good Southern food. However, I took a friend to Al's last year and our food was all the same color, a greenish brown, and everything tasted like it was out of a can. Economy may have been a factor, but good food at good prices rises above. I agree with Ginot's opinion.

SFCRET85
4998
Points
SFCRET85 02/19/13 - 10:04 am
1
0
Obamacare?
Unpublished

Al's and others like it are closing simply because their customer base are aging and dying off. America's food tastes are changing thanks to education on what a constant diet of what these types of restraunts do to the human body.

Now I like a big ol' greasy fried pork chop just as well as the next guy, but to put that style of cooking into your body everyday is inviting a heart attack or stroke and that's a fact. There is a good reason why the South and it's dying out eating habits lead the nation in heart disease, diabetes and stroke. It's called excessive fat in the diet, a leading cause in obesity.

The closing of Al's and others like it is not a bad thing when the purveyors of such an unhealthy diet lose their customers to attrition.

I used to work in the hospitality business and I know what happens in a kitchen that serves fare such as Al's. While eating in such a place is a guilty pleasure for me, more than once or twice a month is just asking for it.

The Golden Corral model, while very good yet still dangerous, at least offers healthy alternatives for those in group gatherings. You don't see them going out of business because of politics, economy or the current President. In fact in this economy they are thriving and the cost of a meal is about a dollar more than the old fashioned meat and three vegtables greasy spoons. Next up, Ruth's and the southern fried joint on Peach Orchard. Hit either for lunch and just look at the customers. Change or die.

kayekaye37
44
Points
kayekaye37 02/19/13 - 10:18 am
6
0
Al's

Yes, this is what used to be La Fran's years ago and I have to agree with the comments about the food. I hate to say it but the food did go down hill BIG time! We ate there not long ago. We got there in between breakfast and lunch. My daughter wanted pancakes and we got lunch. Was told they did not serve breakfast after a certain time and when we got our food it was still frozen on the inside :( My family used to go there ALL the time. 1st b/c we loved their breakfast and 2nd it WAS good food! It has been months since we have been back and I am sorry to see it close but times are hard for anyone these days. Not sure if BJ's had anything to do with it but when you serve good food you get good customers.

Jan Warren Holley
39
Points
Jan Warren Holley 02/19/13 - 10:40 am
2
1
Al's Family Resturant

My wife and I have eaten at Al's for a long time. The food has always been good and the staff friendly. Where else could you order ham hocks? Butch and his dad before him ran a good solid value priced resturant. We will miss the place and wish all the employees well. Al's was the kind of place where you might have a millioniaire on one side of you and a plumber, well digger, or office worker or farmer or young profesional sitting on the other side.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 02/19/13 - 10:50 am
4
0
Maybe the folks that

Maybe the folks that traditionally supported the southern comfort food niche are getting older and less-mobile (ergo less patronage), while the younger generation is looking for more progressive options. I am fine with cooking my own chicken and taters. I can save money on it and mine will come out fresher and more like Grandmama's.

nocnoc
47357
Points
nocnoc 02/19/13 - 10:52 am
1
1
Tried BJ's

Normally the wife and I try a place twice over a period of time, before writing it off. The wife is in no hurry to try it again. Maybe we just tried it too soon after the grand opening?

However, next Time we head out to Magnum Products we decided to try it one last time.

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