For years, Troy Potter and his father talked about buying and restoring Roy's Grill in Rossville, where Potter remembers eating with his grandfather as a child.
After signing a contract with the city Tuesday, the Potters will get their chance.
"It's always been something we've been to and had an eye on it," said Potter, a developer who now lives on Signal Mountain. "We're going to put it back as close as possible as it was in the '40s and '50s and '60s."
Roy's, located a few feet south of the Tennessee line on U.S. 27, was built in 1949 after the original building was torn down for a highway widening project. The restaurant served as a Friday-night hangout and lunchtime favorite for generations of Rossville residents.
Rossville leaders announced Sept. 21 that the city had bought the building and 1.2 acres of land around it for $110,000, pulling money from its reserves.
The city then deeded the property to the Downtown Development Authority, which sold the building to the Potters for $50,000. The city will keep a triangle-shaped plot next to Roy's for a park and use the rest of the land as a parking lot.
Potter said he expected to put $275,000 into the project before it's done.
"To the city of Rossville, it's worth a heck of a lot more," said Bobby McNabb, executive director of the development authority. "Roy's has got a big history in the city there. There's a lot of people who have been asking for it to be restored as it was."
McNabb said this is the beginning of "making Rossville a destination" and said he could foresee a bustling hub of hamburgers like the Varsity restaurant in Atlanta.
Potter said the family plans to expand the seating area in the restaurant by knocking down walls that have separated the building into three businesses, including a pizza shop.
He also said they would like to find an old menu for the restaurant, which at one point was the first Krystal in Georgia, and build off that with hot dogs, hamburgers and fries.
"Basically, we're going to put the grill back just like it was," Potter said.
In a news release, development authority Chairman Ron Wade said the new Roy's is expected to open in late winter or early spring 2011.
McNabb said crews already have begun working, and he wouldn't be surprised if it was selling hamburgers before Christmas.
Contact Andy Johns at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 423-757-6324.