November 2003 Neighbors
Betty Gaines Kennedy figures she’ll have about 150 for Thanksgiving dinner this year—so many folks that, even though she has five spacious dining rooms and a large collection of vintage china and silverware, she’ll need to host two seatings.
The meal will be splendid: a sumptuous, made-from-scratch holiday feast that will include all the traditional Thanksgiving fare and then some.
Betty doesn’t deny that the day will be demanding, but that just comes with the territory. Says Betty, “If you get in this business, you’d better be ready to work—and I mean work hard.”
The business is restaurateuring, and Betty speaks from 18 years’ experience as owner, operator, chief cook and bottle washer at GainesRidge Dinner Club, a delightful dining establishment just outside of Camden. Situated down a tree-lined drive off Alabama Highway 10, GainesRidge is a two-story antebellum house (circa 1827) that offers diners a perfect blend of laid-back charm and elegant style.
The house has been in the Gaines family since 1898. But in 1985, with husband Erskine’s support, Betty decided to renovate the homestead and open GainesRidge as a sideline venture to her full-time job with the federal government. When she took early retirement in ’90, she put her all into GainesRidge—both the restaurant proper and a fabulous catering service that absolutely booms.
GainesRidge is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday evenings and features seafood, steaks and such specialties as Betty’s homemade rolls and legendary desserts like Black-Bottom Pie and Chocolate Sundae Cake.
Betty, a delightful story in and of herself, is a 68-years-young ball of fire who goes after life with gusto. She’s an absolute pleasure to meet, and she’d just be delighted to have you come enjoy the great food, excellent service and gracious atmosphere that are GainesRidge. (Check out the menu, get directions and take an online tour at www.wilcoxwebworks.com/gr).
Meanwhile, Betty loves to share anything and everything, and that includes recipes. These aren’t Thanksgiving recipes, per se—“Everybody’s already got all their favorites for that,” she says—but they’re anytime crowd pleasers at GainesRidge, and Betty’s scaled them to proportion just for you.