Heflin’s gain is Ranburne’s loss. The Sutton family, which owns The Bulldog restaurant, a Ranburne fixture since 1966, is closing its doors at the end of the month and moving it north, said Bryan Sutton. He and his wife, Michelle, were cleaning and rearranging furniture inside the Heflin building Tuesday.
The family was looking to expand, said Michelle, manager of the restaurant. Seven members of their family of nine have been working at the restaurant in Ranburne and needed the opportunity to serve more meals, she said. Bryan, the chef of 40 years’ experience, said the restaurant on Main Street seated only 50 people. The building in Heflin has 130 seats, plus room to expand into the basement and an area where pool tables are now installed, he said.
They had been looking for a new site in Ranburne, Heflin or Carrollton, Ga., when they received news that the building they were leasing was going into foreclosure.
“When the building became unavailable, I said, ‘It’s time,’” Michelle said.
They settled on the location in Heflin and the restaurant will close in Ranburne on Nov. 1, to reopen as Sutton’s in Heflin on Nov. 6, she said.
It’s a bittersweet move. The family lives in Ranburne and that’s home, yet the opportunity for growth is necessary, she said.
Before he opened The Bulldog on Ranburne’s main drag, Bryan managed “The Big Dog” for five years. That much larger restaurant closed when the owner decided to sell the building to a church, he said. So 19 months ago, the family opened in the current location.
That’s one reason for the name change.
“We couldn’t do that to the town,” he said.
During its time in Ranburne, the family restaurant has made a name for itself. Her daughter Mariah Kelley, who serves as dessert chef, is renowned for her cheesecakes.
“We make the best cheesecakes you’ve ever had in your life,” Bryan Sutton said.
Her son, Cody Kelley, serves as sous-chef, creating the American cuisine the restaurant has been serving at its Main Street location. They’re going to stick to the same menu — burgers, ribs, hot wings, seafood and steak – in the new location, Bryan said. They’re also going to add a dessert bar where Mariah Kelley can highlight her work, he added.
“We hate to see them go,” said Pam Richardson, Ranburne town clerk.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.