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Dixie Café in Corbin makes roaring comeback Monday

The interior of The Dixie Café in Corbin during a brief lull between breakfast and lunch Monday. The popular downtown Corbin restaurant reopened to a brisk business.

An iconic downtown Corbin restaurant, closed since 2005, made a roaring comeback Monday.

The Dixie Café opened its doors for the first time in seven years at 7:00 a.m. sharp, and for long-time Corbin residents and former patrons of The Dixie it was welcome news indeed.

"I'm excited to see it open again," said June Curd, who enjoyed a late-morning breakfast at The Dixie Monday with her husband, Floyd. "This is a landmark, a true Corbin landmark."

The Dixie's improbable comeback happened right on schedule. New owner Ed Garr, who is running the restaurant with his wife, Carolyn, said he was pleased with the brisk business the restaurant received Monday.

Local sentiment toward The Dixie reopening has been overwhelmingly positive since Garr announced he had purchased the old restaurant building two months ago. Since, he's worked feverishly to get it ship-shape for Monday's opening.

"Every small town has their local places they go to and I think it's really sad when those place close," Garr said. "People want to be able to grab a hold of and hold onto those places that have been important parts of their lives. I think The Dixie is like that. I understand how important that tradition is."

Terrell Halcomb started what is now known as the Dixie in 1929. Originally it was called The Dixie Billiard Parlor. It moved a decade later, in a single night, to its current location just across the street from where it started. It was last owned by Marsha Trosper who, in 2003, completed a significant renovation of the restaurant that cost around $70,000. The kitchen was moved to the rear and additional seating was added, along with other cosmetic upgrades. When the restaurant closed in 2005, Trosper blamed alcohol sales for luring customers away to restaurants that served liquor by the drink.

Garr said he has no plans to ever serve alcohol at The Dixie as long as he owns it.

If Monday's opening is any hint, it's unlikely it will be necessary.

The restaurant was filled to capacity during the lunch hour. Similarly, breakfast was busy as well.

Ron Meadors, a local retiree who is working part-time at The Dixie, said he's as relieved as anyone to see the restaurant become a part of downtown Corbin again. He began frequenting The Dixie in 1960 as a high school freshman where he would eat breakfast every morning before school.

"Everybody I talk to is really happy it's open again," Meadors said. "I worry that people will just come one time and then go back to McDonald's. I've been telling people it's nice, and it's good we're getting it back, but you're going to have to patronize it for it to succeed."

Garr said in August his purchase of The Dixie was divinely inspired - the result of praying and three days of fasting. He bought the property from Elizabeth Melo, who owned Vittorino Cuccinas, an Italian restaurant that occupied the space until its sudden closure in 2010.

Garr said he wanted to have a "soft opening" for The Dixie this week in order to work out all the kinks that inevitably come with opening a new restaurant. He has, however, used social media like Facebook to allow people interested in the restaurant to closely follow its progress through renovation until opening.

The Dixie will be open every day from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. for breakfast and lunch. It has a full menu, and a selection of fresh baked pies will be available daily.

Employees all donned shirts Monday with "It's all about tradition" written on the back.

Garr said he's focused on getting The Dixie back to its roots as a good, family-focused, community diner. Though some things have changed (the chili recipe is different), he hopes people will take the chance to check out The Dixie and make it a consideration for breakfast or lunch.

"We put a lot of work into this and we're going to be here ... we are committed to it," Garr said. "But we need customers. A lot of people are glad we are here, so I hope they come show us they are glad and give us a chance to prove we have great food and great service and a nice, clean restaurant."

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