Longtime Trussville restaurant closes

‘We may not know it’s Friday anymore’

By Gary Lloyd

TRUSSVILLE – They came from behind bank counters wearing button-down shirts, down from ladders leaned high in the August sun and from their homes just a couple miles down the road. They came in two-door BMWs, Toyota trucks too large for the parking spaces and mid-size SUVs with the crimson script “A” stickered to the back windshield.

They came because the smell of barbecue hanging thick in the summer air is impossible to drive through. They came because the abruptness of it all. They came because within these old South Chalkville Road walls it feels like a family gathering, and on Friday, Aug. 12, it was the final outing.

Golden Rule Bar-B-Q and Grill, a staple in Trussville since 1992, closed its doors for good at 3 p.m.

Golden Rule Bar-B-Q in Trussville on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022

“It saddens us to let you know we will be closing our doors at 3pm tomorrow,” the restaurant posted on its Facebook page on Aug. 11. “We appreciate your support and will miss you dearly. Please stop by and say your farewells to the team.”

That last sentence, that call to action, was heard well by the community. Not even a train blocking the railroad crossing beside the restaurant – shockingly, it wasn’t blocked at lunchtime – could have stopped the parking lot from overflowing Friday. Many parked in the lot where Kemp’s Kitchen once stood, before it burned. Others found a space on Beech Street. They converged on Golden Rule, moths to a flame.

“Best baked beans and burgers around,” said 2016 Hewitt-Trussville High School graduate Garrett Terwilleger, who walked over from work in downtown Trussville.

Terwilleger said he went to the Irondale location as a kid with his dad. When he heard the Trussville spot was permanently closing, he had to go back for one more burger.

“I guess nostalgia [brought me here today],” he said.

Long before it was lunchtime, Anita and David Dobbs ate their final breakfast in the same booth they’ve slid into for more than two decades. For 20 years, David Dobbs, the longtime Hewitt-Trussville track and field and cross-country coach, ordered the same breakfast – egg and cheese sandwich, grits, bacon and coffee. He was always interested to see which coffee mug his coffee would come in.

David and Anita Dobbs at Golden Rule Bar-B-Q (photo courtesy of Anita Dobbs)

“We even donated all my mother’s and dad’s mugs from their travels after they passed away,” he said.

Anita Dobbs said that it was sad to walk out the doors a final time Friday morning. Their booth was filled with memories of family, friends, former students and former athletes.

“It wasn’t just about breakfast,” she said. “It was about relationships. Watching kids grow up, our granddaughter included, catching up with old friends, and making new friends.”

Students often asked the Dobbses, both retired Hewitt-Trussville teachers, on Fridays if they had been to Golden Rule. They didn’t even have to ask.

“They could smell it on us,” Anita Dobbs said. “It will be hard to replace somewhere like this, especially since there are no straight-up breakfast places with eggs and toast and grits. Thanks Rick, Britney, Pam, and all the others who have been there. We will dearly miss this tradition.”

Comparing a barbecue joint, even a little bit, to church might be somewhat sacrilegious, but this is Alabama, and a little bit of sacrilege seems allowable for barbecue and college football, but the line stops there.

“You know, it was a little like church,” David Dobbs said. “Everyone had their own place to sit. We have had people we didn’t know ask where we had been if we were on vacation. They knew we were gone because our booth was empty.”

The Dobbses just drove back home from Tennessee, and the question was obvious: “What are we going to do next Friday?”

“It was something we always looked forward to doing,” David Dobbs said. “We may not know it’s Friday anymore.”

One man, who said he moved to Trussville in the late 1970s and ordered from Golden Rule at least once per month, waited for over half an hour for his to-go lunch Friday, and he sat patiently and happily on the black bench just in front of the register. One man waited just as long, if not longer, and was told his food was free because of the wait. The man laid a $20 bill on the register and walked out with his food. No wait was too long this Friday. It was about the food, sure, but it was more about the patronage, the people.

“It’s kind of sad, you know?” said one man.

Inside Golden Rule Bar-B-Q on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022

Sometimes, it’s that simple. Sometimes, it’s deeper than that.

One longtime Trussville resident said that after her father died, she stayed with her ill mother for a while. Her mother had a standing weekly hair appointment for decades so she’d take her there and pick her up. One day, that daughter had to be somewhere after dropping her mom off, so she called her sister to see if she could pick up their mother. She couldn’t but sent her husband, a big guy with a big heart who rode a Harley-Davidson. He was new to the family and was told he could take his new mother-in-law through the Sonic drive-thru for a burger to eat at home. Instead of taking that easy route, he took her to Golden Rule, a restaurant she and the family always enjoyed, and sat with her while she had lunch.

“I was blown away by his kindness, and it’s a bittersweet memory because that’s the last time she got to eat there,” said the woman’s daughter. “He made the effort to give her that joy one last time.”

This letter was on all the doors on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022.

On Friday around 1 p.m., the noon rush created a line almost the width of the building to pay for their lunch a final time, to say goodbye. Customers hugged waitresses and waved to cooks. “I love you” and “We’re going to miss y’all, too” were overheard dozens of times. Finality, even the closing of a barbecue restaurant, is hard. One older patron, after she paid, turned and looked out over the seating area, as if she was taking a mental picture. When she headed for the exit, she did so slowly, perhaps because she was elderly, or maybe it was the strong pull that nostalgia has.

Said one woman, “At least [Golden Rule] leaves knowing people love them.”  

5 thoughts on “Longtime Trussville restaurant closes

  1. I thought the were only staying until lease run out because they sold property to new entertainment venue. Now the lease is up?? And they’re moving? Just confused. I hate to see history destroyed though.

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  2. My daddy, Bill Wolaver, people called him “Coach” ate breakfast there every day until he died in 2013. My sisters and I would meet him there once a week to have breakfast. We treasure the times we spent there with him. The waitress knew what he wanted so she would just bring it out to him. They always made daddy feel so special, they even put a picture of him on the wall in his baseball uniform of years ago. They placed it above his usual booth. Daddy was proud of that picture. We are sad to see them close, but are so happy that we can reflect on good times our daddy had there.

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  3. I’ve been having breakfast several times a week and other meals also at the Golden Rule since I moved to Trussville in 1996. Always met and made many good friends there. I have no problem with the Entertainment District being close but the “Rule” is a staple restaurant to so many people in Trussville and should have never been forced out. Just like so many others, I don’t know of any other place around the Trussville area with the same family atmosphere that it had. It will definitely be missed.

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    1. I totally agree, Golden Rule, formerly Big G’s, was like pulling up a chair at your family supper table. These new people have bulldozed, torn down, changed landscape of Trussville, especially before around 1980’s-85, these strangers slowly not so quickly you barely blink and someone has allowed another boutique, cupcake shop, pizza place, Golden Rule was one of the last real neighborly spots left. They have even let interlopers tear down original homes on the historic registry with historic plaques which is supposed to be illegal. If you want a huge fancy house buy one in one of the way too many new unwanted subdivisions, but STOP TEARING DOWN AND RUNNING OFF the real historic Trussville or what little is left of it. Golden Rule family will be sorely missed – we need to stand together to protect what little of the real Trussville is left and if not raze all these endless new subdivisions at least not allow any more to be built in what little of Trussville is left. Our animals have had there homes stolen, we made big mistake about 20years ago of buying home in Carrington when we thought it was really going to be wildlife refuge/big huge tracts of land between streets – all lies- what poor animals left, it’s just so so sad. Please help preserve what land we have left and our historical “project homes”, if you need more space there is plenty of land to hide an addition in back that matches with the time period and style of homes.

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