Tyler Marbut is the owner of the restaurant Cecil’s Place in Jacksonville. Cecil’s Place specializes in hamburgers, chicken fingers and ice cream. The restaurant is located at 313 Pelham Road S. in Jacksonville and is open Monday-Thursday from 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Tell us about your connection with Cecil’s Place. My father opened Cecil’s Place in 1980. Both of my children have worked here at Cecil’s Place. My son worked here for me for six years, but he just graduated from Jacksonville State University, and he is doing his thing in insurance now. My daughter is still working for me, but she is about to start a restaurant in Gadsden based on the experience she has gotten here. Before that, we owned The Rocket; my father’s brother owns it now. Before that, my grandfather started a couple of restaurants in Anniston — a couple of small places like this.
Tell us about running a “Mom and Pop” shop. It is harder and harder for small places like this to make it every year, but we are coming up on 40 years, and we have had a pretty good run. We see the same people every day. We have really great customers — if they miss one day, we will see them the next day, and we appreciate that. That is generally how “Mom and Pops” operate, because you have to have that base. If you ever lose your base, you are done.
What is the key to keeping your base? The key to keeping your base is to be extra-friendly. Chain restaurants can afford to give you the “two for $6” or “four for $4” deals, but we cannot do that. We do not have the buying power.
Was working in food a passion of yours? I grew up in it. I was 5 years old and answering phones at The Rocket. Those days you did not go to daycare, you went to work with your parents for a little while, then grandmother came to pick you up. That was daycare: Grandma (laughs). I knew all the people who would come in to eat; I was carrying out trays.
Why did your father want to open Cecil’s Place? There is not enough money in one business like this for more than one family. My father had been keeping an eye on this property and decided to do it because it was going to help everybody in the long run. My grandfather started The Rocket Drive-In, but he was killed in a car accident when my father was about 21 years old. My father was at the foundry, but he had to come back and run The Rocket for a few years because his brother was eight years younger than he was. As time went on, it became evident that my dad needed to do something, so that is when we made the move to open Cecil’s Place.
What are your best-selling items? Our bestsellers are cheeseburgers on toast, bacon cheeseburgers and chicken fingers. We also sell a lot of ice cream. A lot of people like our banana splits; they’re expensive, but they are big. They are more than I can eat in one sitting.
What ice cream is available at Cecil’s? We sell Mayfield ice cream, and we have about 10 different flavors. Our best-selling milkshake is peanut butter, and chocolate or cookie dough is right behind it.
Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at email@example.com.