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Firm Roberts Makes Good With His Roadside Restaurant

Firm Roberts was born in Tennessee in 1882, and moved from Warm Springs, Georgia, to Columbus in 1908. Roberts began selling hot dogs, chili dogs and his own invention — the scrambled dog — to hungry Columbus residents. His hot dogs, Roberts told the Columbus Enquirer-Sun in 1943, were there to greet Benning’s first Army men. By 1947, Roberts estimated that he’d sold more than 100,000 scrambled dogs.


This History Spotlight is taken from the 1927 article, Firm Roberts Makes Good with His Roadside Restaurant. Below is the article in its entirety.


SOURCES: W.C. Woodall's 1927 Industrial Index, Firm Roberts Makes Good with His Roadside Restaurant. A Bowl of Tradition and Oyster Crackers, Richard Hyatt, All on Georgia.

 

A good restaurant in the heart of Columbus is not a novelty. A thoroughly equipped restaurant out on the roadside, two or three miles from the city and serving everything from a plank steak down to a sandwich, is decidedly something new.


Firm Roberts did it. For exactly twenty years the name of Firm Roberts has been associated with the serving food in Columbus, and notable enterprise in connection with such service. Mr. Roberts began with a comparatively small place on Twelfth Street, and it soon became very popular. Subsequently he invested $30,000 in a cafeteria on Broad Street, and while the venture did not prove successful, it certainly illustrated his characteristic spirit of enterprise.


A picturesque location in a beautiful oak grove on Cusseta Road just southeast of the Bull Creek bridge and not far from where Fort Benning Road turns off the main highway is where Mr. Roberts erected his restaurant building. Within less than a year he has had to double the capacity of the place, and other enlargements soon will be in order.



Firm Roberts is an experienced restaurant man and knows how to serve appetizing foods properly and attractively, and how to manage a public restaurant. His new business has been amazingly successful, the monthly sales having shown a steady and at times rapid increase, and on one recent very busy day the force there, which consisted of ten experienced helpers, waited on some 2,500 customers.


While anything in the way of food from a sandwich or cold drink can be bought at the Firm Roberts place, yet the restaurant is prepared to serve and does serve the most elaborate meals; handling with ease a ten-course dinner. In recent weeks there has been a great run on plank steak suppers, and party after party of congenial society people of Columbus have gone out to the restaurant to have a meal under these pleasant circumstances. Reverting to sandwiches: Mr. Roberts serves 33 different kinds, which certainly provides sandwich variety!


The chef in charge, Ben Scott, is the same cook who was with Mr. Roberts at the cafeteria on Broad Street. As soon Mr. Roberts re-opened, he returned to Columbus and took over the kitchen of the new restaurant.



Ben Scott, who is a native of Nova Scotia, has had a remarkable record as a chef. He has been a cook 46 years and has been a chef in exactly that many states. The first dining car brought to Atlanta from Washington over the Southern Railway was in his charge. He prepared and served the first plank steak ever served in Atlanta. He was in charge of a Southern Railway diner for 17 years and has served as chef of the following prominent Southern hotels: Gaosa and Peabody, Memphis; De Soto, Savannah; Tampa Bay, Tampa.


For five years Scott was with the Folsom restaurant in Atlanta, and during that time he was never five minutes late, and never missed a day. Reverting to earlier days, it is interesting that he was a chef of note at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893. Scott says that the Broad Street cafeteria formerly conducted by Mr. Roberts was the best equipped place of the kind he ever saw in the South.


In this connection, it is of interest that quite a number of the fixtures formerly used in the Broad Street cafeteria have recently been bought by Mr. Roberts are now in service in his new place. Quite early in his career as a server of food and refreshments Mr. Firm Roberts became noted in this section as a purveyor of hot dogs – he still sells them – he will always sell them no matter how many large plank steaks are ordered at his restaurant within the course of the day and evening – and it was recently estimated that he has sold upward to two and one-half million hot dogs since he first went into business!


Firm Roberts has always been very popular personally with the Columbus public, and the success of his present restaurant venture, which is growing more marked with each passing month, is very gratifying to his many friends.


Above: A later restaurant opened by Firm Roberts on Cusseta Road.

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