Although this 82-year-old Macon restaurant changed hands in September, few noticed

S&S Cafeteria on Riverside Drive in Macon
S&S Cafeteria on Riverside Drive in Macon Telegraph file photo

A new owner quietly took over a longtime Macon restaurant a few months ago, but even devoted customers probably didn’t realized it.

Smith and Sons Foods Inc., more commonly known as S&S Cafeterias, changed ownership in late September, said its new CEO Rick Pogue. The first S&S opened in Columbus 82 years ago and four years later in Macon.

While J.A. “Jim” Smith III retired, three other generations of the Smith family are still part of S&S, Pogue said. The new CEO is a 30-year cafeteria veteran of Luby’s cafeteria out of Texas.

“I’m a restaurant guy,” Pogue said.

“We are not changing anything,” he said. “The menus will stay the same, buildings will stay the same, employees will stay the same. ... We’re not changing any recipes.”

But, there will be a few tweaks to the hours.

Beginning Jan. 1, S&S will be offer continuous service 11 a.m.-8 p.m., seven days a week. The restaurant used to closed between lunch and dinner. Also, it will offer an early bird special 2-4 p.m. for folks 60 and older, who will get a 10-percent discount.

The purchase took place quietly, Pogue said, because sometimes when people hear there is new ownership, they “naturally think things are going to change.”

“This is an institution, and it’s a legacy brand and we just plan on carrying that forward,” Pogue said. “It’s an honor to lead this company because of the history.”

The business has six locations, including two in Macon, one in Augusta, two in South Carolina and one in Tennessee.

“We don’t plan on closing any cafeterias, and as a matter of fact, we plan on looking to expand in 2020,” Pogue said. “We are looking to grow the brand. It could happen in any of the states we’re in right now.”

In 1985, the Macon-based restaurant had 21 locations, 1,600 employees and fed 30,000 people a day, according to an article in the Macon Telegraph and News. It operated cafeterias in several businesses, such as at Blue Bird in Fort Valley and provided food service at 11 nursing homes. It had two subsidiaries, a distributor and a transfer company for trucking food from the distributor to the stores.