Riley’s serves homecooked meals, homegrown stories
NETTLETON – The folks at Riley’s Restaurant honor the proud title of the oldest operating business in Nettleton by upholding the tradition of keeping it simple.
“Our food isn’t fancy, just home cooking,” said co-owner Sharon Waddle.
Riley’s, originally just a small dairy bar, was built by Sharon’s uncle, Roy Black. Her parents took over the family business in 1965 when Sharon was 11 years old.
“I got out of school every day to go help with the lunch crowd and went right back to school after that,” said Sharon.
In 1985, Sharon and her husband Benny took over the family business and have worked together ever since.
Some of the couple’s favorite memories are of what they refer to as ‘the old coffee drinking crowd,’ a group of retirees that used to sit at Riley’s all day long chatting and fussing with one another.
“One of my favorite memories is when Fred Rogers, a retired postmaster, came in from a trip to the beauty shop. He had gotten his hair dyed black and the dye was running down his face and neck. He came here to wash it off rather than going home. I will never forget that,” Sharon said.
All of those old-timers have since passed away.
“We don’t really know most of our customers now. A lot of them are young and new to town,” Benny said.
Riley’s struggled for a while as industry left Nettleton, but the Waddles are relieved to see business pick up due to the addition of United Furniture and Homestretch.
Many people ask the Waddles how they have managed to work together for the past 28 years.
“It was an adjustment at first. We actually had an egg fight one morning in the very early days! Now, though, I don’t think we could work without each other,” Benny said.
Riley’s serves a buffet every weekday so customers can choose from two or three meats and vegetables. Sharon makes all of the desserts herself including chocolate pie, banana pudding and peach cobbler. The menu is posted each day on Riley’s Facebook page.
A full menu is also available that offers burgers, sandwiches, chicken
strips and more.
On the weekends, Riley’s specializes in steak and fish.
BUSINESS: Riley’s Restaurant
OWNERS: Benny and Sharon Waddle
YEAR OPENED: 1965
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 6
ADDRESS: 118 Pine St., Nettleton
HOURS: Monday and Tuesday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Wednesday 7 a.m.-2 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
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