Originally created 11/05/99

Burger joint is back in business

A home-grown burger joint famous for foot-long dogs and Vidalia onion rings is back in business after a four-year hiatus.

Eat-A-Plenty, the family-owned chain founded in south Augusta nearly 40 years ago, will open Monday at 828 Broad St.

Co-owner Ted Dicks said response to the newly-revived business has been strong, even though it has yet to serve its first milk shake.

"We must have 50 people come through the door every day," said Mr. Dicks, whose father, Thomas, started the original Eat-A-Plenty drive-in on Peach Orchard Road in 1961. "It's partly people who are just curious, but most of them are old customers who want to know when we're going to open."

Mr. Dicks, who has managed the business since 1978, closed the original Eat-A-Plenty restaurant in 1989 and opened new locations on Walton Way and Washington and Wrightsboro Roads.

But by 1993, a dispute with an investment partner left only the Wrightsboro Road location intact. That store closed two years later, when the property was purchased and cleared for a new CVS Pharmacy.

Mr. Dicks' longtime friend, Rick Goolsby, talked him out of retirement earlier this year.

"I sat many days on the front porch grilling burgers with him," said Mr. Goolsby, who will co-own the new location. "I said `Let's open an Eat-A-Plenty downtown. Downtown is really coming back."'

The new Broad Street luncheonette occupies the storefront that formerly housed Orange Julius and Pyramid Records. The eatery will seat about 40 and will operate from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The two partners eventually plan to open a pizza-and-beer pub in the building's rear portion fronting Ellis Street.

Eat-A-Plenty weathered competition from big-name hamburger chains by using fresh ingredients and an old-fashioned touch to everything from its hand-cut fries to its hand-dipped onion rings.

The business, whose hot dogs frequently won top honors in Augusta Magazine's readers polls, came into existence almost by accident.

The elder Mr. Dicks originally wanted his Peach Orchard Road building to house equipment for his ice cream business.

The restaurant was born when an ice cream machine salesman offered him free use of a grill, deep fryer and milkshake maker if Mr. Dicks agreed to use him as a supplier.

It has been a while since the younger Mr. Dicks served one of his signature char-broiled hamburgers, but he's confident the restaurant will be a hit.

"Everybody I've talked to about it remembers the old Eat-A-Plenty," Mr. Dicks said. "I know it's going to do well."

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486.


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