Finding food, and fast

Rachael Scarborough King
Star Staff Writer
Published: July 16, 2006

Dining out in Anniston is a tale of highs and lows, with few in-between options.

The in-betweens, agreed diners at two very different Anniston restaurants on a recent Saturday night, are in Oxford.

Patrons at Betty’s Bar-B-Q and The Victoria, both on Quintard Avenue, said that Oxford is often more convenient, but to avoid the long waits on weekend nights they travel to Anniston instead.

“The one thing that makes us come up this way is a shorter waiting time ’cause at most of the places in Oxford you have to wait 45, 35 minutes,” said Pam James of Oxford, who eats at Betty’s a few times a month.

“But you have more to choose from in Oxford, it’s more convenient in Oxford,” added her daughter, Miriam James.

To avoid the lines, customers have two options: they can go to a restaurant like Betty’s, where the entrees cost about $10 and there is rarely a wait on weekend nights, or to one like The Victoria, which takes reservations and where dinner for two is about $60.

“Usually in every small town like this there’s a more upscale restaurant unique to the town and that’s this place,” said Ashley Carroll of Tuscaloosa, who was dining at The Victoria with her mother and a friend who lives in Oxford. “Or you can go to Outback.”

On a recent night at The Victoria, there were a few empty tables, but the lounge area was full with a raucous 20-year reunion of The Donoho School. Lucy Wiedmer, a Donoho graduate and Anniston resident, said she doesn’t think of The Victoria as just a special occasion place, but that it isn’t as family-friendly as other restaurants.

“To be honest I wouldn’t feel comfortable (bringing my kids here),” she said. “You probably could bring your kids, but I wouldn’t.”

She added that the new owners/managers of The Victoria, Amber and Phillip Ledbetter, “are doing a very good job.”

“It’s almost like you feel like you’re in a bigger city somewhere – a lot of people don’t provide al fresco dining here,” she said. “They are really trying to make it a local favorite as opposed to more out-of-town guests.”

At Betty’s, Sarah and Douglas Ledbetter, said the draw for them at the restaurant – where they eat three to four times a week – is the home-cooked food and the chance to get out of the house for an hour or so.

“Everybody’s just really nice … they have some good waitresses here,” Sarah Ledbetter said.

“I just don’t like to (go to) Oxford. It’s too busy.”

Patrons at both restaurants said they thought eating out was one of the main forms of weekend entertainment for Calhoun County residents.

“Usually people go out to eat and then come by the mall and shop,” Pamela James said at Betty’s. “There’s not much else to do here.”

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