AMORY – Since acquiring the Amory Twin Cinema in 2016, Joe McGonagill’s plan for the space has changed, changed again and changed a couple more times on top of that. Always intending on using it as a place for the now 6-year-old catering business, Smokin’ Bros, COVID-19 prompted another changed, but the solid plan is for the restaurant to host its grand opening July 25 to coincide with Cruisin’ Amory.
As intentions with the restaurant have been ever-changing, its décor is etched in time as pieces of Amory history pop throughout the dining room.
“We’ve got to have good food but we’ve got to have a good atmosphere. We’re taking on an old Amory atmosphere, and what’s cool is everyone who has been bringing old Amory stuff,” McGonagill said. “We want everybody to feel a part of it, like you remember this and that. Young or old, everyone should have a good time.”
A U.S. flag formerly flown above the Park Hotel hangs on one wall, while tin from the roof of Smithville’s former Piggly Wiggly, which was destroyed in the April 27, 2011 tornado, takes up the opposite wall.
Wood on the back wall was milled by Hatley resident Tom Crook’s father and grandfather, and there’s a ledge above the opposite wall with old wooden Coca-Cola boxes, a Krispy Kreme doughnut sign, a door from an old home in Amory and an original 1941 shopping cart from McCullen’s Grocery store, among other items.
“There’s a story with the camel up there – I won it in a poker game at Herbert Word’s house. It came from the Tupelo Furniture Market, and it was a show piece. He also had an elephant and a zebra, but I wanted the camel because of Hump Day,” McGonagill said, adding he won the poker game with a hand of Queens over Jacks. “When I went to get it, I had the head of the camel hanging out of the sunroof of my Tahoe and when I got back to the store, an Amory cop stopped to ask if that was really a camel hanging out the sunroof.”
Other pieces of local history include old sponsorship tee markers from Amory Golf Course, the clock and under the downtown awning sign from Anthony’s Men’s Wear and other items from McCullen’s Grocery. McGonagill is also anticipating an original blueprint of Amory Golf Course, which he intends to frame for display.
On a shelf above one of the front windows, there’s an assortment of authentic Lipton tea containers such as a metal urn shipped from the British Empire in 1926, tins for teabags and nickle boxes.
Going through saloon-style doors to the back, patrons will be able to find their ways to the restrooms, the kitchen, private seating in the smoke room and doors leading to the adjoining Piggly Wiggly and When Pigs Fly gift shop.
“We want people to be able to walk through the kitchen and be a part of it,” McGonagill said. “In the smoke room, we’ll have stools where people can actually watch their food being made and we’re getting a bunch of random stools in the kitchen area just for people to hang out.”
The kitchen area also includes an increasing list of local artifacts such as Piggly Wiggly signs from the former Smithville location, the signage from Puckett Industries, Cruisin’ Amory banners and banners from the 2007-2008 back-to-back Amory High School 3A State Championship golf teams.
McGonagill even has a foot locker from 1942 made by the Piggly Wiggly Corporation commissioned for World War II.
He is unsure of the full-on opening date but said Smokin’ Bros will be open five days a week, with Wednesdays and Sundays being its two off days. Future plans include an outdoor deck in front of the restaurant.