Anyone passing through Hollywood knows the old truck-stop building. It used to be said that some of the best food in the county came from there.
The restaurant closed for a while, but is now open once again under the ownership of Rand Tidwell and Marietta Lemieux.
Tidwell is an inventor and also creates his own line of larger-than-life fishing lures. He has always had a dream to open his own chain of country store restaurants where his ‘Zilla’ line of fishing and hunting products could be sold.
The stores, one in Hollywood and the other at Skyline, are called ‘Zilla’s Outdoors and Café.’
He met Lemieux, his business partner, in Skyline while working to open his second location.
“I owned a restaurant at Skyline called ‘Mom’s Family Restaurant,’ but I closed it some time ago” she said.
One day, she noticed Tidwell’s new business and went in to talk to him.
“He said he had been looking for me,” she recalled. “Everyone told him if he could get me to cook for him it would be great.”
Together, the two are developing what has become their shared dream.
They strive to make the food at Zilla’s unique, and even offer a fun way to get customers on the ‘Zilla’ bandwagon.
“We have a seven-pound meal called the Godzilla,” Tidwell said. “If you eat it all, it’s free and you get a t-shirt and your picture on the wall.”
The breakfast consists of a breakfast sandwich, biscuits with gravy, Western Omelet, bacon, sausage, a huge stack of pancakes, and loaded hash browns. “Our pancakes are the size of a dinner plate,” said Vince Lemieux, Marietta’s son.
Along with his mother, Vince cooks and creates new dishes for the restaurant, including a secret spice dry-rub that customers love.
“It is so good,” said Elizabeth Bryant, who eats at Zilla’s frequently, “that you wouldn’t even think of using sauce on the steaks.”
Friday is steak night at Zilla’s, where customers get Char-grilled Ribeyes and have a chance to sample one of the restaurant’s specialties, The Spud-Zilla.
“The Spud-Zilla is huge,” Marietta said. “It’s a baked potato-and-a-half smothered in onions, cheese, bacon, ham and barbecued chicken topped with sour cream and jalapeno peppers with a side of Texas Toast.”
“It’s a meal in itself,” added Tidwell.
Every day, the restaurant features a ‘meat and three’ hot food bar where customers get the chance to try some down-home treats like chicken and dressing, meatloaf, or Vince’s special oven-fried chicken.
“I roll the chicken in butter and Ritz crackers before baking it,” he said. “We’re also not scared to put seasoning on our food around here. It’s really good.”
In the front of the restaurant, Tidwell’s ‘Zilla’ fishing lures are on sale every day, along with one of his inventions he created with two friends several years ago.
“I taught an internship program for Northeast Alabama Community College, (NACC)” he said. “An Auburn University graduate named Dewy McClarty, and a student of mine, Jonathan Guinn, helped me develop a product called ‘Scen-tech.’ It’s an infrared blocking product that fragments wavelengths at night so you will not be detected through infrared lenses.
“That’s what started everything,” he said. “We use it for hunting because studies have shown that deer see in different wave-lengths and colors. You can put the product on, get in the grass and you will not be lit up when they look at you.”
Zilla’s Outdoors and Café is open Monday- Thursday, 5 a.m. – 3 p.m., Friday, 5 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Saturday, 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.