In Mar. 15 issue, Russell County News
By Greg Wells
Russell County News Managing EditorABOVE: Ricky Mann points out some of the work he has done and is planning inside the soda shop “Tanner’s” on the square in Jamestown, beside the Masonic Building.
Ricky Mann said he had asked before over the years about buying it and quickly snapped up “Tanner’s” when it came on the market.
“There’s so much involved I can’t say when we’ll be open,” Mann said recently. “I’m putting in new plumbing wiring insulation, bathrooms.”
He said they have moved the old coal stove to the side. It was the building’s sole source of heat, but now will remain only in memorial to it’s long service. New central heating and air will take over the work of keeping customers comfortable.
Work is progressing steadily on the building in the northeast side of the square beside the Masonic Building Mann said.
“We’ve already lifted one corner that had been sinking, and reinforced the beams,” Mann explained.
Though there is a lot of work to be done to make the building usable as a restaurant again and he is trying to retain everything he can in the old soda-shop but there are some things that can’t be helped.
Mann said the old grill and hood won’t pass code and two of the three old juke-box controls in the booths are gone, but he’s looking to retain all that he can or replace what he can’t with equipment that would look like it belonged in the shop.
“People ask me if their initials are still carved in this or that booth and if their gum is still under the seat,” Mann laughed as he showed off the underside of one of the benches with a long ragged row of old gum firmly affixed.
“In the 50s and 60s it was hopping,” Mann said of Tanners. “This was ‘The’ place. My brothers and sisters and their friends used to come in here all the time.”
He said the building had been on his mind for a long time.
“I was always afraid someone would come in here and do away with the place,” Mann explained.
When it came on the market there were some structural problems, it is no where near up to code as a restaurant and the roof leaked but that was not slowing Mann down.
“I was one of the first ones to call when it came up for sale,” Mann said.
He said he feared the old hang-out in downtown Jamestown could go the way of nearly all of the historic buildings in Creelsboro, torn down and lots cleaned off.
He pointed out that the Creamy Whip is gone now as is the old Avalon drive-in.
He has plans, and work is underway. At present preliminary work has been done out back where the building will be extended to allow for bathroom space.
New electrical panels are in, but none of the wire is in the building.
A wall inside is gone, as is much of the floor in the front of the building, but for Ricky Mann it is all a labor of love.