Every community has those places that people remember visiting from childhood. Several local Newton County institutions have been here for many years, like Stalvey’s Restaurant and Lounge and Town House Café. But, like most towns, some local merchants come and go over the years. Today, we’re going to enjoy a Wayback Wednesday moment as we rekindle the memories of some of the businesses in Newton County history that are dearly missed by locals.
You may have read our recent article about the Hub Drive-In. This drive-in movie theater was the spot to hang out in the 50’s and 60’s. Locals often recount their many memories of the drive-in and how many great times were had there. But did you know that Newton County was also home to The Strand Theatre, right on the square? Located right on the square in Downtown Covington, the cinema was in operation in the 1940’s and well into the 70’s. These theaters were the main source of entertainment during this era for local youth.
The Hub Drive-In in Newton County
Photograph of the Strand Theatre provided by Terry Reed via Facebook
Local Sallye Jackson, spent most of her teen years in the area and remembers growing up in Covington. “My friends and I would walk everywhere, especially to the [City] pharmacy to get ice cream, the Strand Theater to watch movies, and the convenient store, Hootens, where we would buy candy and sparklers,” Jackson told us. In fact, the City Pharmacy is one blast from the past that’s making an appearance in its original location! On the corner of Church Street, right next to Jaymes and Co., the new City Pharmacy will offer a trendy restaurant with dining and themed cocktails to transport you back to the days of soda hops.
Image provided by Michelle Piper Williams on Facebook
Another popular spot that locals enjoyed either before or after the feature film was the Cow Palace on Hwy 278, back when it was still a rural country road. According to local legend, the Cow Palace Drive-In Diner served up some of the best burgers, hamburger steaks, and coleslaw. Facebook user Alisa Johnson Brown recalled the menu at the Cow Palace by exclaiming, “Lordy, what I'd give for a pizza sandwich!! I've had nothing like it since!” It’s amazing to see the difference in the cost of food since these places existed, as well. User Lynda Holmes also recalled the Cow Palace in Covington. “My kids and grands don't believe me when I tell them about the hamburger basket for 69 cents and chicken basket for 79 cents. Loved it!”
The Cow Palace, as seen in the 1963 Newton County High School yearbook
Provided by Victoria Moon Perry on Facebook
Other local restaurant favorites included Fincher’s BBQ, which used to be on Washington Street, across from Haralson’s Grocery Store. Owners Fred and Marie used to serve hot dogs, BBQ, Brunswick stew, burgers, and hamburger steak, among other menu must-haves. Pat Yancey on Facebook says “I can still remember the great aromas I smelled there…makes my mouth water.”
And for dessert? Covington had both a Dairy Queen on rural 278, and the popular ice cream parlor Tastee Freez— the original soft serve. In addition to delicious soft-serve ice cream, the Tastee Freez also served some of the areas best burgers and chili dogs. “My mom and my aunts played softball for the mill team and after games we'd always go to Tastee Freeze. I loved it,” says local Ricky Kimbrell on Facebook. Although there are no locations left in Georgia, the Tastee Freez legacy still lives on today!
Speaking of ice cream, the present-day location of Scoop’s used to be the Piggly Wiggly supermarket, where locals could go to the square to pick up their groceries. The photograph below shows the inside of the Piggly Wiggly, provided by Margie Milligan Day on Facebook.
Flash-forward a bit to the 1970’s, to Record and Tape World in the present-day Newton Plaza, where Hibbett Sports is today. Local youth used to visit the record shop for 8-track tapes and their favorite albums on vinyl. Locals say that the entire shop used to smell like incense and cigarettes.
In more recent years, there are a few previous Newton County businesses that our media team misses in particular. We can remember spending warm summer nights at the 180° Skate Park after school, or grabbing a delicious flavored latte at Edwin Bean Coffee House. Edwin Bean pioneered craft coffees in the area, being that it was a local hang-out when the flavored craft latte trend really took off.
Our favorite memories of previous square merchants include family dinners at Smiley’s Restaurant, a frito pie and a milkshake from A Touch of Country, and a delicious, upscale meal at Michael’s on the Square. We can still hear the jazz music and taste the delicious Duck L’Orange that head chef and owner, Michael Zahn used to prepare.
Do you have any fond memories of locations past in Covington or Newton County? We’d love for you to share your story with us! Be sure to comment on our Facebook or Instagram page or send us a tweet to share those favorite local places that you remember from Newton County history.