Loss of Parish Grill has stung our city

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Anytime there is a fire, it affects many people. In the case of Sunday’s blaze that destroyed The Parish Grill restaurant, we were lucky that nobody lost their lives and that the fire didn’t spread to engulf more of the historic downtown area. However, we are all still truly saddened by the loss of both a good restaurant and a historic landmark for the community.

As Lowell McGill’s column on Page 3A of today’s edition noted, The Parish Grill’s location has housed a number of restaurants over the years, and also was the site of Atmore’s radio station in the past. Certainly there is always the possibility that the building will be rebuilt as good as new, but at this point and time it’s hard not to imagine that it could be gone forever — and all those memories gone with it.

It’s also a sad day for our city because The Parish Grill was an example of the growth and rebirth that has been taking place in downtown Atmore over the past several months. Building facades have been repainted, the Strand theater has been purchased and “saved,” and several community groups have devoted time and energy to help make our downtown better.
Sheryl Vickery, the executive director of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, told me that she was “absolutely devastated” when she heard the news.

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“We went down there and just couldn’t stop staring at it, wondering how it could happen,” she said. “We’re thankful that it didn’t spread to other buildings, but you still feel like a part of Atmore was taken away from us. That kind of restaurant brings people to downtown and that then spreads to the other stores.”

Again, it is far too early to speculate about the ultimate fate of the restaurant. It may be rebuilt and re-open as a restaurant, it may be rebuilt and open as a store or other use, or it may not be rebuilt at all. At this point, all that we can do as citizens is rally together to continue working to improve our downtown and make it the best that it can be.

I have no doubt that the fine citizens and civic groups in this community will step up to the plate again, as they have so many other times. We will continue to fight for our Atmore.

Thanks for reading The Atmore Advance.