John T. Arnold plans to serve up a fresh menu with a side of experience in hopes of reinvigorating Roy's Grill in Rossville.
Arnold, the kitchen manager at Southern Star on Signal Mountain and a longtime employee at Merv's Restaurant on Mountain Creek Road, signed paperwork Tuesday to take over the iconic Rossville restaurant.
"It's been a lifelong dream," said Arnold, who lives a few blocks from Roy's neon sign. "I pray it works out."
He plans to open the eatery Aug. 26 or 27.
The diner, which Rossville officials have deemed a pivotal piece of the city's downtown revitalization, closed July 23 -- six months after it reopened following heavy renovations.
Troy Potter, whose family owns the building and ran the restaurant, said they couldn't make Roy's profitable, but he's confident Arnold can.
"He'll do well with it," Potter said. "It's a good situation for him. Everybody's excited that it's coming back."
Potter said Arnold called him the day after the diner closed. Since the first phone call with Arnold, Potter estimated he had received 150 other calls from hopeful restaurateurs.
Arnold, 41, said he had thought about running Roy's ever since he was a high schooler at Gordon Lee Memorial High in Chickamauga, Ga. He began looking at it seriously three years ago but was intimidated by the renovations the building required. The Potters spent $275,000 to rehabilitate the building, which seats about 40.
When he saw the chance to get in on a renovated Roy's, Arnold thought it might be "meant to be."
"I couldn't pass it up," he said.
He said his biggest focus will be on the food, and he envisions dishing out fresh meat and vegetables in addition to diner staples such as burgers and desserts.
"I like it when somebody tells me the food tastes good," he said. "That makes me feel good."