TALLAPOOSA Co. Ala. (WBRC) - Constructed in 1928 The Hotel Talisi was severely damaged by arson in 2009 and has never reopened. While many guests stayed there over the years, it was the restaurant which drew people from all over the South and while the hotel is gone, the flavor of the hotel lives on, just a few miles away at Larry Melvyn’s Restaurant, still serving up the old favorites.
“I got out of high school one summer, wasn’t old enough to drive and go anywhere but old enough to do something,” Larry remembers. “So, I was bored all summer. So, I started making cakes for people at 14.”
It was obvious early on cooking lay somewhere in the future for Larry Melvyn Stearns but first came the Navy followed by a return to Tallapoosa County where he worked with his family for a while before coming full circle, “Really it was Bob Brown who got me started in commercial cooking when he gave me a job at the hotel.”
There have been quite a few landmarks we’ve visited over the years including some famous hotels. Sadly, some of those are gone now like the old Hotel Talisi, but the spirit of the old hotel lives on in a place called Larry Melvyn’s Restaurant.
“We were going to do the same food that the hotel did, and we do. Everybody here worked at the hotel, everybody. The main thing about this restaurant right here and the same thing with the hotel is fried chicken. If you go and buy chicken, it’s been fried at 350-degrees. I fry my chicken at 340-degrees. Therefore, my crust is soft and tender and the chicken’s not dried out. I make my own dumplings. And I use lard and I use Crisco. I’m going to roll out my dough and cut it up and then we’ll boil it over here in the broth that we made with the chicken.”
Most of Larry’s early customers knew him from the hotel, but the word is getting around, “Most of the people I feed now I’ve never seen. They come from the lake a lot. They come from Mill Brook. They come from Wetumka. They come from Prattville. They come from Montgomery, Auburn.”
Larry understands his restaurant is helping keep the spirit of the old hotel alive.
“When the hotel died, downtown Tallassee died. The older people, they don’t have a place to eat here. I just need to pay this restaurant’s bills so these people that work here and my daughter can make a living and we’re going to stay here as long as this restaurant can support paying these bills. That’s all we need to do.”
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