Sadie’s American Cafeteria at Richland Mall will reopen in time for Sunday lunch – after being closed for three days, saving the jobs of about 50 employees.
The cafeteria will be owned by former general manager Brett Womack, who formed a new business, bought the name and will keep the same employees.
The Forest Drive restaurant will return to regular daily hours – opening for lunch and dinner and on Saturdays, Womack said. It will be open on Thanksgiving and will offer catering, he said.
The cafeteria will continue to serve the staples favored by its regular clientele, such as country fried steak, beef liver and onions, and chicken pan pie – all made from scratch, said Womack, who has been in the restaurant business in the Midlands for 26 years.
He will add some upgrades, as well, he said, including steaks and offering ribs and carved ham and turkey more often.
The restaurant was opened six months ago by David Martin, who named it after his grandmother, Sadie Tronco. It closed abruptly Wednesday as negotiations were ongoing for Womack to reopen the restaurant with a new business plan.
“I know that this thing can make it,” said Womack, 50, who previously worked as a head chef at California Dreaming and formerly owned Buffalo Southwest Café on U.S. 378 in Lexington before it was sold to Ruby Tuesday’s.
Womack has eight children, ranging in age from 3 to 23, and has lived in Forest Acres for 15 years.
The restaurant – an S&S Cafeteria for three decades – always has had a loyal client base, Womack and Richland Mall owner Bill Walkup said.
“You’ve got some regular customers that you see in there every day,” Walkup said. “It’s a great service to a lot of the retirees (and) widowers that never cook. They depend on that. …It’s a social thing for them, too.”
Womack said he is reopening the restaurant with a capital infusion and no debt, which he thinks will help him be successful.
The restaurant opened in May with a boom, serving about 1,000 customers a day, Walkup said. But business dropped off to an average of about half that number and never rebounded.
Having the cafeteria open also is important to the struggling mall, Walkup said.
“That’s just a real positive thing for us,” he said. “Traffic for the mall has increased because of this cafeteria.”