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Route 66 News

New operator sought for Palms Grill Cafe, but it will remain open

The nonprofit board that owns the historically restored Palms Grill Cafe building, which sits along old Route 66 in downtown Atlanta, Ill., is seeking a new operator for the restaurant by May 1, but it will likely stay open in the interim.

The Atlanta Public Library Board owns the Downey Building where the restaurant operates. The Palms Grill opened in that space in 1934 and closed in the late 1960s. The restaurant was restored to its circa-1935 glory in 2009, and quickly became a must-stop destination for Route 66 travelers.

William Thomas, treasurer of the board, emailed a press release Thursday seeking candidates to run the restaurant. The current lease expires April 30.

In an email, Thomas explained why the board wanted to go another direction with the restaurant:

The PGC currently operates on what the Library/Museum Board considers to be too-limited a schedule. It’s days/hours of operation are: Tuesday-Sunday, 8am-2pm. The Board would like to see if a different manager can expand the days/hours of operation. The current manager/lessee also owns and operates Atlanta’s only other full-service restaurant, The Country Aire. Over the years, the current manager has demonstrated that he has primarily kept the lease for the PGC in order to reduce competition with The Country Aire restaurant. The Library/Museum Board would like to see if a new manager can more fully leverage the potential of the Palms Grill Cafe.

Thomas said the restaurant will stay open for now. “It would not, however, surprise me if – once a new manager/lessee is found — the new manager/lessee chooses to close for several days in order to reopen under his/her management,” he said.

Part of the news release said:

The Palms Grill Café is a turnkey operation. It is fully equipped and will only require a new manager to supply an initial inventory of food and hire his/her staff to operate it. The Grill seats 47 in its main dining area, which includes a counter with 11 stools. Its backroom seats 60. The building is approximately 1800 sq ft.

Leasing/Managing the Palms Grill Café is an excellent opportunity for the right person.

The Atlanta Museum, which is operated by the board, also occupies the Downey Building.

Prospective restaurateurs should email Thomas at wthomas(at)teleologic(dot)net. Candidates will be required to fill out an application and submit a business plan.

UPDATE: Thomas’ email address had a typo. It’s fixed now.

UPDATE 1/29/2013: In a question from the Lincoln Daily News, Thomas answered a burning question about the restaurant’s pie:

[T]he pie we all know and love that is currently served at The Grill, will continue to be baked & served regardless of who holds the lease/manages The Grill. The recipe is mine and, just as I did with the current leaseholder, I will train whomever assumes management of the place, how to bake our great pie.

(Photos courtesy of William Thomas)

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3 thoughts on “New operator sought for Palms Grill Cafe, but it will remain open

  1. Steve Wagner

    Hey, the Histoiric Hotel Brunswick on Route 66 in Downtown Kingman, Arizona is also looking for an operator for the Restaurant and the Hotel. The new Swiss owner is totally remodeling the old Hotel and has added outdoor dining on the patio.

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