By Johnny Jackson
Country-styled food and southern hospitality are just part of the dated ambiance at one Hampton restaurant.
"This is our favorite country cooking," said Dorothy Burroughs of McDonough.
She and her husband, Lester, are regular customers at The Kendrick House Country Buffet in Hampton, located inside a 106-year-old home.
"Since we discovered it several months ago, we've been eating here every week," Burroughs said.
The restaurant will have been in business a year this May.
"It's really doing good," said Nettie Beasley, the restaurant's manager. "We loved the Hampton atmosphere, and we have the best country cooking you can find anywhere."
Her son, Tim Durham, is the owner and head chef of the restaurant. He named the establishment in honor of his mother, whose maiden name is Kendrick.
The restaurant, originally a house built by a doctor in 1903, has gone through several phases over the years. The large white house, once a country-side home sitting on about 30 acres of land, has been a restaurant twice before, and was previously owned by the Weaver family.
Durham said he chose the house as a place to continue his restaurant business because of its location and atmosphere.
The Kendrick House is located in the heart of downtown Hampton, at 29 East Main Street, and sits in an eclectic neighborhood of new and old homes.
"I like the setting, the atmosphere and the decor," Durham said.
He admits, however, that the restaurant's location has been a sort of blessing, and a curse.
"It's a little bit of a challenge because of the setting," Durham said. "People pass by and don't recognize where or what you are."
The Griffin native started in the restaurant business working at a local restaurant in high school. He decided several years ago to open his own restaurant, following a nearly decade-long career in welding.
"I kind of backed into this," he said. "I like working in the kitchen, and you've got to do something for a living."
Cooking starts in the morning, at the country buffet, in time for the crowds. Fried chicken is served daily with a different buffet menu every other day of the week, including fried pork chops, fried fish fillets, barbecue pork, and Brunswick stew. Dressing, vegetables, and dessert are also mainstays on the buffet menu. Seafood is served on Saturdays.
The restaurant has a seating capacity of nearly 170 patrons in about half a dozen different dining rooms, each with a different theme and decoration - a sporting room on one end of the restaurant and a garden room on the other. It also hosts and caters special events, like weddings.
Durham said he has found his niche in the restaurant business, but admitted there is always room for growth.
"All the customers are nice, and they're real complimentary," he said. "I just enjoy it, and I just want to continue to grow and expand our customer base."
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday, from 11 a.m., to 8:30 p.m.; Friday, from 11 a.m., to 9 p.m.; Saturday, from 4 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, from 11 a.m., to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call (770) 946-3245.