Fort Valley community helps owner reopen restaurant
When you walk into the Railroad Cafe, you better come with an appetite.
For Jeff Hall, the restaurant’s four walls is a place he calls home.
“Before long it was steaming down the tracks, it was doing well,” Jeff says.
The restaurant, right in the heart of Fort Valley, serves breakfast and lunch and you’ll get your money’s worth. It’s a family affair — Jeff, his wife Wendy, and their two kids Ciara and Landon are always here, but it wasn’t always that way.
Sometime life has a way of taking you off the tracks.
Ciara was born with congenital glaucoma, leaving her blind — public school wasn’t working out.
“I feel like I left before everything was kind of finalized. I feel like there was work incomplete to be done here,” Jeff says.
The cook had to close his dream, moving his family to Florida, so Ciara could attend the renowned school for the deaf and the blind.
“I remember when I first got there, I was scared because I was really shy,” Ciara says.
“She was able to come out of her shell and blossom into a beautiful little girl and it was just awesome,” Jeff said while shedding a few tears.
Ciara blossomed, gaining a 4.0 and becoming the salutatorian of her call — and then there was a call.
“It’s so overwhelming that it meant so much for them for Fort Valley and the community and it really hits me hard now,” Jeff says.
After announcing on Facebook he was headed back to Georgia, Fort Valley residents wanted Jeff to open up the cafe again — this time withe their help and support.
“Two dreams come true, I suppose. It came true the first time and it was kind of short lived. For it to actually come true again is even more amazing,” says Jeff.
“He was just in his element and so I could just hear him back there ‘order up’ and it was just really emotional for me,” Ciara says.
So after almost 10 years and the support of a community, the railroad cafe is reopen and a family is on a mission to keep steam rolling ahead.
“I’m glad to be back, I really am,” Jeff says.
Ciara received a full-ride scholarship to Wesleyan College, a short drive from the restaurant where she’s close to family and friends. The Railroad Cafe is open Monday thru Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.