Linda Cox opened Bobby Ray’s restaurant at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), located at 903 E. Morton Ave., on Friday, August 4. The restaurant, located in the VFW Post #1379 on top of the hill behind Neal Tire and the UPS Customer Center, will be open on Fridays from 4-9 p.m., Saturdays from 4-8 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. The restaurant is open to the public, not just members of the VFW. It has something for everyone in the family.
Cox has worked in the restaurant industry for years and she is not a stranger to the VFW: she ran Jeanne’s on the Hill partner there around 2000. She has also worked at the Kottage Kafe and Norma’s North Star, both in Jacksonville. She has been out of the restaurant business since February doing in-home healthcare, but took on the challenge of opening and running this new restaurant at the VFW, Fridays through Sundays, while still doing in-home healthcare a few days a week.
The restaurant is named for her father. “He is 90 years young and a Navy Veteran who went into World War II when he was 17 years old. He lives in Florida now, but was born and raised in Greenfield,” Cox reveals. “He loved to come here when I ran the restaurant before.” The family surprised her father with a party for his 90th birthday this year when he drove here with Cox’s brother from Florida. “While he was here, I told him about the possibility of running the restaurant at the VFW and said I didn’t know if, at 64 years old, I had the stamina for it. My father said, ‘Just go for it.’”
Cox said she is excited about the opportunity. “We will make everything from scratch – from fried fish to horseshoes. Our lunch and dinner menus have something for everyone.” The menu includes hamburgers, horse and pony shoes, hot open sandwiches, grilled and breaded tenderloin and chicken, a soup and salad bar and more. Cox’s sister, Carol Piper, will also be making her delicious pies for dessert. “In addition to the regular menu, we will have daily specials,” said Cox. “As we move forward, we can always add more to the menu. For instance, in the winter we may have several soups available. For Sundays, from 7 a.m. until noon, we have a full breakfast menu that includes omelets, bacon and eggs, breakfast horse or pony shoes, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, French toast, and even steaks and more.” Prices at the restaurant are very reasonable.
During the opening weekend, Cox’s family – her three children, sister, niece and others helped her. “They have all been involved in the restaurant business with me for a long time and are helping me get up and running,” stated Cox. In the kitchen, the cooks are Kurt Sides and her son, Andy Cox.
The first two customers to arrive at the restaurant, even before the official opening time just to see Cox, were Randy and JoEllen Doyle. JoEllen Doyle said Cox had once hired her to work for a restaurant and they had worked together for years. She was happy to come out and support Cox in her endeavor.
The VFW added its own touch to the restaurant with ‘The Fallen Soldier’s Table.’ The table serves to remind those who come to the restaurant of the sacrifice of those who have served and recognizes, not only fallen soldiers, but POWs and MIAs. The table is set for one person with a red rose, a yellow ribbon on the vase, a slice of lemon, a sprinkle of salt, an inverted glass, an empty chair and a candle, all representing aspects of lives sacrificed, POWs and MIAs. All are explained on at the first table you pass on your way into the restaurant area. Take the time to stop by the table and read each of the meanings.
After all the preparation and hard work put in by Cox, her family and the VFW, Cox hopes the community will come to the restaurant, support them and, above all, enjoy the fresh, delicious food.
The Fallen Soldier’s Table
Those who have served, and those currently serving the uniformed services of The United States, are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice. They are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy our daily pleasures, others have endured, and may still be enduring, the agonies of pain and internment. Before we begin our activities this evening, we will pause to recognize our POWs and MIAs. We call your attention to this small table, which occupies a place of dignity and honor near the head table; it is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks; they are referred to as POWs and MIAs. We call them comrades; they are unable to be with their loved ones and families tonight, so we join together to pay humble tribute to them, and bear witness to their continued absence. This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner along against his or her suppressors. The tablecloth is white, the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms. The single red rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return. The yellow ribbon on the vase represents the yellow ribbons worn on lapels of thousands who demand with unyielding determination a proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us tonight. A slice of lemon on the napkin reminds us of their bitter fate. The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the country’s fallen tears of families as they wait. The glass is inverted – they cannot toast with us this night. The chair is empty – they are not here. The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation. Let us pray to the supreme commander that all our comrades will be back within our ranks. Let us remember and never forget their sacrifices. May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.