Buster's re-opens doors after Ivan

Published 4:04 am Wednesday, February 16, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
When it reopens Wednesday, after nearly six months of being closed because of Hurricane Ivan, Buster's will be the longest running restaurant in Atmore.
"Since Sutton's closed down after the storm we're the oldest restaurant around," Julia Gibbs, who owns the restaurant with her husband Johnny Gibbs, said.
Until 1951Buster's was called McMurphy's Dairy Bar. W.S. "Buster" Joyner, Julia's father, had run the restaurant under the old name for a number of years.
"After Mr. McMurphy passed away, he (Buster) changed the name," Julia, who grew up in and around the restaurant, said.
According to Johnny Gibbs, Joyner had experience with running a restaurant and ice cream parlor before he began running McMurphy's.
"He (McMurphy) home delivered milk from over here plus he served dairy, ice cream and sandwiches and stuff up here at the bar," he said. "Then Buster started running it – he had the ice cream parlor downtown and came down here to run this one."
Hurricane Ivan closed the restaurant for the longest time in history. Now the Gibbs family is scrambling to get the doors open by this Wednesday.
"We had to shut down the day the hurricane came," Julia said. "The Hurricane took us out on a Wednesday so we want to open back up on a Wednesday."
Bob Bonner, a long time friend and owner of the Huddle House, has been helping with the cleanup effort.
"I've been coming here for 38 years and I've been friends with the family for about 38 years," Bonner said. "I helped do all the remodeling out here."
Johnny and Bonner have had to replace almost everything in the building due to the roof being torn off.
"We could have been done weeks ago, but he's poor help," Bonner said laughing at Gibbs. "When we came back in it was ankle deep in water, everything's been replaced; the walls, the ceiling, the floors, the sign."
Some work still needs to be done on the restaurant.
"It looked like a war zone in here, but now it looks great," Johnny said. "The floor still needs to be cleaned, but other than that it's coming together."
The sign on the front of the building has been replaced by a new sign that is more than a decade old.
"Julie's brother B.B. painted that sign 12 to 15 years ago," Johnny said.
The sign depicts Buster himself fishing from a rowboat. Though Joyner passed away several years ago Julie believes he's very much a part of the business. A portrait of him hangs over the cash register.
"That was his favorite place to be is right there by that register," Julia said. "That was where he was happiest."
The Gibbs family is happy to be a part of the Buster's legacy.
"This place is wonderful, just wonderful," Julia concluded. "All of my brothers and sisters have worked here. We've grown up around here and our kids have had their pictures taken here as they grew up."

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