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Eddie Bryant always wanted to own a restaurant.
Bryant, who’s made a career with Castleberry Shutters, also has wanted to go into business with his nephew, Pete “Fretti” Lamendola, who sells cars for a living.
“We’d been looking for something,” Bryant said. “We had been wanting to partner up for awhile.”
So, when opportunity knocked, they opened the door.
Bryant and Lamendola are the owners of Oliver Perry’s, a new fine dining restaurant and bar at 905 Carroll St. in downtown Perry targeted to open in early 2022.
The establishment’s namesake is Oliver Hazard Perry, a War of 1812 hero for whom the city of Perry is named.
Coincide or fate?
Call it coincidence, happenstance, serendipity, fate or chance, everything for the restaurant started coming together last summer.
Bryant and Lamendola were enjoying Hazard’s on Carroll Street during a Food Truck Friday in downtown Perry.
“It would be nice to own a restaurant like this,” Bryant recalled thinking.
Not long after that, Bryant said he was talking with John Hulbert, an attorney in Perry, and happened to ask him how Hulbert’s new restaurant was coming along.
Hulbert and his father, Skeet Hulbert, had planned to open a restaurant at the 905 Carroll St. location.
But Hulbert later decided that he couldn’t be an attorney and run a restaurant at the same time. There were other factors also in the decision to sell the restaurant space, Hulbert said.
At the time, Hulbert was in talks with a Columbus restaurant. But when that fell through, Bryant and Lamendola seized the opportunity to buy the restaurant space.
“I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant,” Bryant said. “I’m a real social person. I like talking to people.”
Management and operations
Bryant will manage the front house of Oliver Perry’s. Lamendola, who Bryant said prefers to be in the background, will fill in wherever needed.
Chef Amelia Day of Fort Valley will be over the back-end of the restaurant. She and Bryant work closely together, bouncing off ideas.
Day, who’s been cooking since she was 8, went to culinary school at Helms College in Macon and then worked at the popular Props Steak and Seafood Restaurant in Warner Robins.
Oliver Perry’s will be the first time she will serve as a chef for a restaurant. She has a sous-chef, the second in command of a kitchen in a restaurant.
The restaurant will offer high quality meats and seafood with rice and pasta dishes based on what’s available throughout the year.
“We’re focusing more on quality than quantity,” Day said.
The restaurant will offer menu and specialty items, with the menu likely to rotate every six months.
“That’s kind of the fun of having a small restaurant,” Day said. “It gives you a lot of freedom.”
“Christmas every day”
The restaurant can seat up to 50 people. The full-service bar is expected to offer craft beer, fine wine and mixed drinks.
The restaurant will initially open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday and offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Bryant and Day have been busy at the restaurant daily, unpacking and putting away the kitchen cookware, utensils and restaurant dishes as they arrive.
“It’s like Christmas every day,” Day said.
Bryant has also been busy finishing the buildout and adding finishing touches.
Before they sold it, the Hulberts had added two layers of drywall, redid the plumbing and electrical and added a kitchen space in the back of the restaurant to include a walk-in freezer.
They’d also added lighting, booths and had started the bar. Bryant is finishing the bar, adding a crystal lighted bar top.
He’s also added iron railing, tables and chairs and everything else required to finish the buildout and equip the kitchen, restaurant and bar.
Bryant shared a rendering of how the front of Oliver Perry’s will look once signage has been added. In addition to the restaurant’s name, its nickname “OP’s” is incorporated.
“That’s Fretti’s part,” Day said. “He wanted a cool, catchy name: Let’s go grab a drink at OP’s.”
The interior of the restaurant includes chairs and tables set up on a platform area next to the front windows. The bar is to the left as customers enter the restaurant up a slight incline ramp. Booths and tables also are near the bar and along the right side of the rectangular restaurant. The kitchen is on the left side of the restaurant adjacent to the bar area.
“We plan to have the utmost service,” Bryant said. “Our customers are going to be No. 1.
“We’re not going to cut corners. Definitely our service and our food, we want to offer top quality. Nothing but the best.”