Aw, shucks, Sutton’s Restaurant closes

Published 11:00 pm Friday, December 20, 2013

For 30 years now, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, all roads in Barbour, Coffee, Dale and Pike Counties have led to Sutton’s Restaurant on the outskirts of Ariton and just up from Elamville.

Tonight, as soon as Lurlene and Freddie Sutton can “get everybody fed and out,” they will turn out the lights and close the doors of Sutton’s Restaurant for the final time.

And, if tears are shed, no one will know except the Suttons, their family and those who work at the popular seafood eatery.

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“The normal closing time is 9 o’clock but we could be running a little late,” Lurlene Sutton said. “We’ve got two parties booked and a lot of reservations. So, we’ll see.”

The Suttons opened the restaurant in 1983 on the chance that they could make a go of it.

“There was only one restaurant in Ariton and some other Suttons that were related to us owned it,” Sutton said. “We decided to give it a try. We were open for lunch with regular food and, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, we had seafood. We’ve always had seafood and the oyster bar.”

Sutton said the decision to close the successful seafood restaurant that takes a road map to find didn’t come easy.

“After 30 years I’m tired and worn out,” the spunky proprietor said, laughing. “I need a little rest.”

Seriously, Sutton said that it’s just time.

“There’s a time for everything,” she said. “Seafood has gone out of sight and people can’t afford it like they used to. And, we’ve got too much on our plates. It’s time.”

Frank and Shirley Reddock are regulars at Sutton’s and have been for a long time.

Although there’s nothing fancy about the restaurant, Shirley Reddock said it’s where you can go that’s like going to grandma’s house.

“You know the food is going to be good and that you’re going to see people you know,” she said. “It’s just a place you look forward to going. And, a lot of people are going to miss Sutton’s. We hate to see it close.”

The oysters are shucked by the tubs and, next to the catfish, are the most popular item on the menu.

Mike Jones said he’d walk a mile or two to get to the Sutton’s oyster bar.

And, the salad bar only has a handful of items but you can’t beat folks away with a stick.

“Sutton’s is an iconic restaurant and it’s sad to see these small mom and pop restaurants close,” Jones said. “They are small town America. Nothing can take their places.”