Tavern-style restaurant to open in former Funky’s location in downtown Danville

With his upcoming history-themed Old 97 Tavern restaurant, Phillip Decker wants to offer a unique dining experience for Danville.

“It’s something that Danville doesn’t have,” Decker, 36, said during an interview inside the building where he plans to open the eatery in about four or five weeks. “It’s a new style style of restaurant for this area.”

The Old 97 Tavern will open in the former Funky’s Arcade Bar location at 315 Lynn St., Suite B. Decker bought Funky’s and closed it so he could re-brand and re-open it with a new look and new name.

There will be a restaurant in the front, with some of the former Funky’s arcade games in the back, Decker said.

He plans to feature a part of the city’s history, the wreck of the Old 97 train 120 years ago, as its main theme. He’s remodeling the Lynn Street space and working with the Danville Historical Society to get old photos, memorabilia and newspaper articles from the time for the restaurant’s interior.

“I wanted to re-brand it and rename it something connected to the city of Danville,” Decker said, adding that he is redesigning the bar and bathrooms and adding a patio out front. “I thought the wreck of the Old 97 was a good way to connect to local history.”

The Old 97 — a Southern Railway mail train — crashed in Danville on Sept. 27, 1903, killing 11 and injuring seven. Blamed on the engineer pouring on extra speed to keep on schedule, the event made headlines around the country and inspired several songs.

As for the menu, Decker plans to start small for quality and consistency. It will feature American tavern-style fare including burgers, chicken sandwiches, wings and hand-cut fries.

There will be a full-service bar offering beer on tap, wine and liquor. He also plans to have popular mixed drinks named in connection with the Old 97.

Hours will start out from 3 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“Those hours may expand if I’m able to have enough staff,” he said.

Decker, who also owns Cat’s Place, a bar in Reidsville, North Carolina, hopes to hire about 20-25 employees at Old 97 Tavern.

His goal is to create a singular atmosphere at his establishment different from that of other restaurants in town. He wants to avoid similarities with other eateries in the city, hoping to complement them instead.

“We can all be successful together,” Decker said.

With growth happening downtown, there is lots of opportunity, he said.

“I look forward to being part of the revitalization of the River District,” he said.

By John Crane, Register & Bee (Original Article Here)