Keeping the business all in the family, Ryan Jolly will reopen Arris' Grill under the same respect, but with a new face.
For 60-plus years, Arris' Grill served the Aiken community with its well-known “old-fashioned” hamburgers and fresh-cut fries, located in Mitchell Center on Whiskey Road. Its doors closed on Oct. 3, but Malcolm “Dean” Jolly Jr.'s nephew Ryan just could not see the restaurant discontinuing.
“I grew up in that restaurant, and, at one point, my mother was the head waitress,” Ryan said. “I would get out of school and sit and do homework in that place. My sister and I grew up there. When the restaurant had to close its doors, it was a blow to the head. I just couldn't see it closing.”
“Dean” Jolly Jr.'s father originally bought the establishment from George Karapatakis about 25 years ago. After Dean's father passed in 1990, Dean's mother, Vivian, took over the restaurant.
The name Arris stems from Arris Karapatakis, George's brother, according to Dean.
“I was a manager there for about 23-and-a-half years, and, with closing, we were really concerned if Arris' Grill would survive,” Dean said. “We were only a small portion of the 60-plus years that Arris' Grill had been open in one form or another. ... My father bought the place in '88 from George, and he was the third or fourth Greek to run the place. That's why we would like to see it continue.”
Ryan bought the restaurant from his uncle for roughly the same price Malcolm Jolly Sr. paid for the restaurant when he initially bought it. The restaurant will have the same atmosphere, same Aiken Standard's Readers' Choice Award for best hamburger in Aiken 15 years in a row and stay in the same location.
“We're going to open up early again; do breakfast for those who want breakfast before work,” Ryan said. “We will start opening again at 6 a.m. It's been in my family for 25 years, I just couldn't see it go away. Hopefully we can get in there and bring it back to its heyday.”
Arris' Grill does not have a reopen date scheduled, but according to Ryan, while there is still much work to be done, he will try to reopen the restaurant as soon as possible. For Dean, he is glad the restaurant will stay in the family, but now he will focus his attention back to his other love – rare and unusual plants.
“I loved working there and loved the people, but I've always loved plants and I do landscaping,” Dean said. “I really am nuts about native azaleas. ... I'm just still playing the plant nut. I just want to be semi-retired I think.”
Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville.