By Ginna Parsons
NEW ALBANY – Melinda Bell and her aunt, Eddie Lou Ray, stopped in Fat Luey’s this past Thursday for a burger.
“A friend of mine said it was the best hamburger in town and it is delicious,” said Bell of Tupelo, who was making her first trip to the restaurant. “I’m going to tell my kids about it so they can come here when they’re in town.”
Alyson and Blake Roberts, who share five children, opened Fat Luey’s in downtown New Albany in June 2011. They already had a trucking company, but one of their children wanted to try her hand at the restaurant business.
“I had worked in a restaurant growing up and we figured this would give the kids something to do while they were in college,” Alyson said.
The whole family sat down together and came up with a menu and, accidentally, the name.
“Our dog is named Fat Luey and we were trying to come up with a name and one of the kids suggested we call it Fat Luey’s as a joke,” Alyson said. “We all laughed and then when we told friends about it they said, ‘Oh, you should definitely call it that.’”
Fat Luey is the family’s 9-year-old Boston Terrier.
“Luey is like our child together,” Alyson said. “Everybody here treats him like a kid.”
The restaurant’s best-seller for both lunch and dinner is the ribeye steak sandwich, which is thinly sliced pieces of grilled ribeye served with grilled peppers and onions and cheese, if you like.
“All our meat is fresh cut,” said Jonathan Smith, who mans the grill at lunch. “Alyson buys the whole loin and I cut it in the mornings. All our dinner steaks are fresh cut, all the hamburgers are hand-formed. Almost everything we serve is made here. We buy very little stuff that’s pre-made.”
The Fat Luey, a burger served with all the fixings, is another popular item as is the grilled chicken salad.
“There are not a lot of places in New Albany to get a good salad, but I crave the ones here,” said Sarah Rector, the floor manager at the restaurant.
The salad features grilled (or fried) chicken served on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes, cheese, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, boiled eggs, croutons and seasonal fruit.
The restaurant is only open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“One reason is because we have the other businesses (Roberts Trucking and Roberts Frames), but the other reason is you just can’t get New Albany to commit to a restaurant seven days a week,” Alyson said. “We were open every day for a while, but the crowd just wasn’t dependable.”
Dinner is hopping
The dinner shift is much busier than the lunch shift, she said.
“We turn the tables five or six times at night,” Alyson said. The restaurant seats 48.
A lot of the customers are regulars, but Fat Luey’s also gets a lot of visitors from the Tanglefoot Trail and from baseball tournaments at the Sportsplex.
“Thursdays are our busiest because we’ve been closed for four days and they’re ready for that salad or that sandwich,” she said.
Ed Leggett and his son, Trey, eat at Fat Luey’s every Thursday.
“We’ve been coming ever since they opened up,” Ed said. “We just made it our routine. Every time we come in, Sarah knows what we want. I have the fish and chips with french fries and tartar sauce and Trey has the Fat Luey Jr. with sweet potato fries. The service and the food bring us back.”
* What: Fat Luey’s
• Where: 106 W.Bankhead St.in downtown New Albany
• When: Thursday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.to 9 p.m.
• Info: Call (662) 539-7005 or visit them on Facebook