Buck’s closing marks end of eraPublished 1:51pm Thursday, March 14, 2013
“I’ve got some bad news.”
Our ad director, Tippy Hunter, greeted me with those words toward the end of last week.
“For whom?” I asked.
“Well, for everyone, really,” she replied.
She passed along the news with a heavy heart that Buck’s Dairy Quik, an iconic Alexander City restaurant, would be auctioning off its equipment, building and land by the end of March.
To say I was shocked is an understatement – “heartbroken” is the more apt word to describe how I feel.
Buck’s Southern cuisine has played an integral part in my childhood and in my working life since moving back to Alexander City.
I’ve eaten at Buck’s more times than I care to count – it was one of the old standby restaurants that everyone in my mother’s family could agree upon. I tried ranch dressing for the first time, at my uncle David McGhee’s insistence, in a booth on the right side of the restaurant.
I shared many meals with my grandfather, grandmother and immediate family there – my favorite fare being their delectable, juicy fried chicken.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve ordered the same thing – a thigh, leg, fries and okra. In fact, when my father would order takeout from there, they would automatically know the order was for the Spears family.
“Y’all are the only family that always has two dark snacks with okra instead of cole slaw,” one of the waitresses told my dad over the phone once.
I always loved polishing off a meal there with a chocolate milkshake – perhaps not a dessert that was kind to my waistline after eating a meal of only fried items but delicious nonetheless.
I’ve taken several of my coworkers to Buck’s since I started my job at TPI in the summer of 2011, and they’ve agreed with me about the quality of the freshly cooked food. I do my best to be a cheerleader of all the local restaurants, but Buck’s has – and always will have – a special place in my heart.
Buck’s has never been a fancy restaurant. It doesn’t put on airs or try to be anything it’s not.
In a way, it represents a big part of the heart of Southern hospitality and Alexander City – servers who greet you with a smile, bringing you a heaping plate of whatever you ordered and making sure you have everything you need, including multiple refills on sweet (or in my case, unsweet) tea.
It’s a meeting place for an older generation that was around when the place first opened and a family restaurant for the generations who came afterward, growing up enjoying the place, like myself.
So to Mr. Paul Daniel, the owner – thank you for providing so many great meals for me and my family, as well as hundreds of other families, over the years. Like many of the service industries, the restaurant business is a hard one and can sometimes be a thankless job, and I’m sure closing the restaurant hasn’t been an easy decision for you.
My family and I will be eating there at least once together before Buck’s shuts its doors for good next Friday, and I hope I get to thank you in person.
Maybe I can get your recipe for my favorite fried chicken.
Spears is general manager and managing editor for The Outlook.