“We opened up the dining room and bar area,” he said “The bar is bigger, but the main seating area is about the same size.”
Gibson has been with the company about 14 years and has worked at the Oxford location for the past eight years.
The restaurant’s interior was repainted and decorated with murals representing local icons – such as race cars at the Talladega 500, framed photographs of sporting events, a sign spelling out O-X-F-O-R-D, and a wall hanging of a historical shot of Anniston.
“We like to make connections to our guests,” said Gibson, “as opposed to making them feel as if they are at some place where they have never been.”
Gibson and Matt Skinner, area director for Applebee’s, a chain of restaurants that started with a single restaurant in 1980 in Atlanta, invited members of the local media, the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, the Oxford City Council and other dignitaries from throughout Calhoun County, to sample the food items and view the changes, which included a fresher exterior design and sign.
Kitchen manager Justin Wade and assistant manager Carmen Rowell greeted guests and helped serve tea, water and other beverages.
At about 4 p.m., a check for $3,304 was presented by Gibson to Brooke Comfort and Patrician Daigle for the Kyle Comfort Memorial Foundation, which helps wounded soldiers and helps pay for the family members to travel and visit them. Brooke is the wife of the late Cpt. Kyle Comfort, who had lived in Jacksonville and was killed in May of 2010 while serving in Afghanistan. She and Daigle co-founded the Foundation.
The money came from a silent auction of the decorative items, including the tiffany-style lamps, that had brightened Applebee’s before the renovation. Customers had bid on the items during the days leading up to the April 1 renovation project.
In addition to the changes in the décor, the restaurant officials added new big-screen televisions, which brought the total number of televisions to eight, and they re-trained the cooks and servers in an ongoing attempt to always provide them with the latest techniques regarding food preparation and service.
Gibson hopes community members will come in and enjoy the new features.
“They can watch NFL and NBA games,” he said, “and they can see the televisions from anywhere in the restaurant.”
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