by Max Marbut
After serving breakfast and lunch in his cozy restaurant in the concourse at the BB&T Building for the past eight years, Wade Niergarth is about to gain 120 new seats by taking over Southern Paradise just around the corner on Forsyth Street.
A steady stream of Downtown workers stop by Wade’s Place every day and Niergarth knows most of them by name – and even what they usually order off the menu.
“I’ve been wanting to expand the business for a while and considered making a bigger restaurant here at this location when the Downtown Ambassadors moved their headquarters to the Ed Ball Building. The landlord and I decided the build-out costs would have been prohibitive,” he said.
Sam Gabriel, who has been running the kitchen at Southern Paradise for the past two-and-half years, is also looking forward to the change. He said he’s ready to get out of the weekday foodservice routine and will work weekends only at some restaurants owned by friends.
“This business can take a toll on you and you need a change every couple of years. I think it’s time for me to relax for a while.”
Southern Paradise will be closed for a few days for a top-to-bottom cleaning and the installation of new flooring, but those will be the biggest changes. Wade’s Place’s popular pork chop and meat loaf specials will make the move to the new location. Niergarth plans to continue offering Southern Paradise’s lunch buffet and he said he wants everyone to know they’ll still be able to have the fried chicken on Wednesdays.
“We may add some things to the menu in the future, but we’re going to keep the winners,” he said.
Niergarth also said customers who have been regulars at Southern Paradise will continue to recognize familiar faces when they come in because he plans to keep the staff intact at the new location.
“I’m going to keep the name, too. I think there are a lot of great marketing opportunities with that name.”
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