Lloyd’s carries tradition of home–cooked food

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Imagine a new restaurant succeeding during a depression.

Given the recent economic news, would you be willing to try? Yet Lloyd’s did so during the 1930’s Great Depression and is still going strong after 71 years. Did its founder, Lloyd Chesser, ever dream his business would someday be written up in Delta Sky Magazine’s Barbecue Lover’s Guide?

Looking back, few things are as good as we remember them to be. Lloyd’s Restaurant, opened in Chelsea in 1937, is an exception. Its founder sold the restaurant to Eli Stevens in 1971 and he reopened in its Meadowbrook location in 1978. This location on Highway 280 still serves home–style food at reasonable prices.

Now, I don’t go as far back as Great Depression days, but I do remember a time when Lloyd’s was in Chelsea. The casual family restaurant was in a small building and difficult to get to from Birmingham.

A few decades ago, only Old Highway 280 ran through the Narrows — a beautiful two-lane road winding through the mountains. A creek slipped along on one side. And going to Lloyd’s in Chelsea from my home in the eastern side of Jefferson County was quite a trip back in the ’60’s. We had to bypass many other legendary restaurants on our way.

In East Lake we passed Lou-Jac Drive-In, featuring “Chicken-in-the-rough,” a franchised fried chicken that predated Colonel Sanders by two decades. On First Avenue in Woodlawn, we drove by the venerable King’s Catfish King Restaurant, where one could eat all they could — fried catfish, chicken, French fries and hush puppies — for $1.25. In the same area was the Spinning Wheel’s original site, a building that resembled an ice castle, complete with giant icicles on its eaves. Anyone remember their “Frosty Spin” milkshake?

After passing all these places and driving for well over an hour we arrived in Chelsea. I thought we surely should be near Florida by then. I was further surprised that we actually had to stand in line outside for 45 minutes before being seated. P

Pull out on Highway 280 traffic for dinner and a trip down memory lane. Wish the old landmark a happy 71st year. You’ll never say the food isn’t as good as it used to be at Lloyd’s.