Since that night in May when the flagship Nu-Way was decimated by fire, Macon has been in mourning. There are other locations to get your Nu-Way fix, but the original boxcar-sized restaurant was as much a fixture in the city’s annals of history as the grander and older Hay House.
Everyone on the street has a story to tell about an experience or event related to this favorite eatery. Ed Grisamore, former longtime Telegraph journalist, whose weekly narratives recorded ordinary and extraordinary lives in the peach state, documented the history of Nu-Way in his 2011 book, “There is More Than One Way to Spell Wiener.”
Until the book was published, even some Nu-Way regulars had never noticed the misspelled “weiner” on the sign over the entrance, which has been there since 1937.
Sidney’s Salons, sponsored by Historic Macon Foundation, is a series of book signings held at the Sidney Lanier Cottage, home office of the foundation.
On July 14, Grisamore was invited to review his engaging account of the founding of Nu-Way, the Greek families who have owned the hotdog stand for almost 100 years and famous visitors, including Oprah, who have perched on those chrome stools to taste the legendary hot dog.
The parlor of the cottage was buzzing over news that the present owners of Nu-Way, Jim Cacavias and Spyros Dermatas, were razing the burned-out shell of the building the next day in preparation for a completely new facility that could last another 100 years.
When the hors d’oeuvres were served, Billie and Thom Phillips were in the cottage’s formal dining room to pick up the delicacies for the evening -- miniature slaw dogs, cheese dogs, chili dogs or all-the-way dogs -- courtesy of Nu-Way.
Grisamore’s program attracted not only fans of his writing, but Nu-Way devotees who wanted to know more about its humble beginnings and to be assured of its revitalized future.
Kay Nelson, like so many Maconites with out of town family and friends who have a renewed curiosity about Nu-Way, had her new edition of the book autographed by the author.
SMOKING OUT THE BANDIT
The Macon Film Festival opened its 10th anniversary celebration of indie films July 16 with special guest, Oscar and Golden Globe winner Burt Reynolds. According to festival director Terrell Sandefur, this year’s submissions of films surpassed the wildest expectations of organizers and sponsors.
Restaurants jumped on the bandwagon with specials on the menu named for Reynolds’ memorable characters and movies. Macon Arts Alliance moved the First Friday event to July 17 in order to feature scenic artists who are working on movies and television series in Georgia’s burgeoning film industry.
According to program director Stephanie Fritz, the “Off Camera” exhibition showcases the artists and craftsmen who work as painters, welders and set designers to create environments which, in part, tell the stories on film.
Seay Earehart’s work is seen on “Lawless”; Justin Cammer was a scenic artist on the indie film “Into the Woods”; Beth Steele can add “Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire” to her credits; and George Turner Jr. has worked on such film noir as “Drop Dead Diva,” “Vampire Diaries” and “Necessary Roughness.”
Contemporary artist David Sutton, whose paintings hang in many of Macon’s art galleries, worked in Senoia on the “Walking Dead” before leaving to work as a scenic painter in Atlanta on “42.” E.K. Huckaby, from Fayetteville, freelances on film sets, but brought to the gallery his layered technique using mixed media including flecks of mica, which add a translucent perspective to his paintings.
After talking to Fez Moosa and Michael Collins, who were taking a break from the heat under the sidewalk umbrellas at Just Tap’d next door to the gallery, it was time to head to Cherry Street where the sidewalks were crowded with star watchers hoping for a glimpse of the man who made us laugh and root for the bad guys in “Smokey and the Bandit” and recoil at the horror of “Deliverance.” That film, also directed by Reynolds, put Tiger, Georgia, on the map.
After serving her customers plump raspberry truffles for dessert at Market City Cafe, excellent server Priscilla Green left for the night, walked around the corner and rushed back to breathlessly announce, “You won’t believe what happened -- I just ran slap into Burt Reynolds!”
He was visiting the West Gallery on Third Street and, by the time the small crowd gathered to see him, had settled down behind locked doors to look at Kirk West’s collection of photographs of movie and music idols.
Like the role he played in “Smokey,” Reynolds could outsmart the posse in hot pursuit. Maybe, next time.
Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.