Wheeler Center in Priceville to get JW Steakhouse
By Ronnie Thomas
DAILY Staff Writer
PRICEVILLE — An $800,000 restaurant expected to employ up to 50 people is coming to the Wheeler Center at Alabama 67 and Interstate 65.
Former Decatur resident Jody Witt is planning the JW Steakhouse for a 1.4-acre lot on Marco Drive beside Days Inn. He said the 6,000-square-foot facility will seat about 250 people. He said he hopes to start construction in April and be open by August.
"We looked at several different locations in North Alabama and felt Priceville was the best option," Witt said. "We hope to draw business off the interstate, but we believe that the majority of our business will be local. We feel we'll be offering something different in the food market here."
He said he is pulling together site plans for the technical review committee of Priceville's Planning Commission. He said he also is waiting on plans from a kitchen designer to get to his architect, John Godwin of Decatur.
Mayor Melvin Duran said the restaurant will be a great addition to Priceville, and especially for business owners on the east side of I-65.
"When travelers stay at our two motels here, they have to leave the Wheeler Center for dining," he said. "The steakhouse will make it convenient for them."
Duran also believes the restaurant will be a boost to other eating establishments.
"It gives folks traveling the interstate another choice when they drive into town," he said. "That helps everyone. We've got to have some commercial growth to sustain the costs of roads, drainage and sewer. And any business that comes to Priceville means more money to help with our schools and our library."
Witt said that preliminary plans call for a stucco exterior with a Southwestern decor. He said the restaurant will serve aged beef, hand cut daily and cooked on charcoal grills.
"Our steaks will include filets, ribeyes, New Yorkers and sirloins," Witt said. "We will also offer pork chops, different types of grilled chicken, and fried and grilled catfish."
He said he is considering having seasonal fish specials, from salmon to tilipia, a pond-grown whitefish. The restaurant also will have a complete salad bar.
Witt, 30, said his former father-in-law, Ray Chenault, who owns the Western Sirloin Steakhouse in Moulton, taught him "everything about the steakhouse business. I worked there more than three years and will use the same philosophy in my restaurant."
Witt lives in Flat Rock, near Hatton. He said he plans to move to the Decatur-Priceville area within a few months.
A 1993 graduate of Austin High School, he earned a bachelor of science degree at Auburn University in 1999.