Downtown eatery reopens

Published 8:51 am Wednesday, May 13, 2009

FRANKLIN—The Grey Fox has returned to Franklin.

The restaurant, which re-opened late last month after being shuttered for two years, is under the ownership of Russell and Christine Brett of Franklin and is open for lunch and dinner five days a week.

“I liked the name,” Brett said from his restaurant on Tuesday. “I believe it’s what they used to call Robert E. Lee.”

Brett was born in Franklin, lived in the city until he was in second grade and moved to Savannah, Ga., and Orlando, Fla. He moved back with Christine, a third-grade teacher at S.P. Morton Elementary School, six years ago.

“I remember there used to be a hill over where City Hall is now,” Brett said. “When it would snow, the fire department would go out there and would spray their hoses down the hill. Then the whole town would go out there with their sleds. We’d all go down the hill, but I had it better because my grandmother used to live in an apartment building there. Me and my buddies would go down the hill and then go up and get hot chocolate and cookies, then go right back to the hill.”

He chuckled, “That memory has always stuck with me. It was one of those small-town memories.”

Today, Brett said, he is using his grandmother’s recipes, and his 28 years of experience in the restaurant industry, to offer up quality fare at a reasonable price.

“We really put a lot into my grandmother’s recipes to save money,” Brett said. “Everybody’s on a budget. To save money, we can’t buy a lot of things that are already made. So we do our our batters and breading.”

Brett said Shirley Camp owns the Grey Fox’s building, located at 401 N. Main St. in downtown Franklin.

“She has just been unbelievable; she decorated all of this,” Brett said, motioning across the inside of the eatery. “She gave me an opportunity. She wanted something nice for downtown Franklin. We’re trying to meet those goals, and to have a good quality meal at a decent price.”

Other downtown merchants have been supportive as well, Brett said.

“They’ve been in three, four and five times to eat,” Brett said. “I didn’t do any advertising until the Friday and Saturday before Mother’s Day. So everything was word-of-mouth. I believe that stays with you. That’s what I grew up with. You have stay on top of your game. You have to make sure what you’re doing is the best you can do.”

The Grey Fox is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. Brett said in the future, the restaurant could possibly open for lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays.

“We’ve had a lot of people come up to the door when we’re here working on Mondays and Tuesdays,” Brett said. “We’re really considering opening for lunch, just not for dinner.”

Brett said that although fried chicken is his personal favorite and the restaurant’s specialty, he suggests trying the pork loin, too.

“A lot of our dishes are chicken dishes,” Brett said. “We play around with the marinades and the glazes. But we have a little secret (pork loin) recipe that all of us worked up. We think we have a good recipe there; it’s served with fried apples on top.”

The restaurant is also in the process of getting a liquor license.

“We hope to have it within two weeks, but we’re not really emphasizing the bar,” Brett said. “We’re going to be more of an after-dinner drink establishment.”

He applauded the city for helping him get started.

“Everybody at City Hall has been great,” Brett said. “Everybody really wants something downtown and have been going out of their way. When I got everything together to get my business license, they stayed at City Hall. Very seldom do you find people willing to stay past 5 p.m. The gentleman who took the payment, the lady with the utility department, the ladies with the revenue office — they’ve all just been great.”

The Grey Fox Restaurant served Southwestern cuisine under the previous ownership of Suk Hing Jen. She closed the restaurant in April 2007, citing slow business and family obligations.