- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

CENTREVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Every town in America seems to have at least one landmark, but few, if any, can be linked to dill pickle juice.

Without that ingredient in Twix & Tween’s “secret sauce,” the restaurant and its barbecue might not have been as popular as it’s been for so long, according to the family that owns it.

At the moment, however, the restaurant is in a fight for its business life because of fast-food competition, a bypass and a declining customer base.

University of Alabama students past and president have frequented the “T&T;” since it opened more than six decades ago, but there aren’t quite as many as before.

The restaurant was always much more than just a place to have lunch. It also was where UA students would meet relatives to drop off their laundry and pick up some spending money at the same time

Just think of it as Bibb County’s version of Toomer’s Corner in Auburn where folks flock for its famous lemonade, especially during the football season.

Hugh Edmonds and his family have operated Twix & Tween for the past 30 years after taking over from the original owner who began operations in 1952.

Edmonds bought the restaurant after a bad business day at his previous eatery.

“We were losing a lot of money at the old place, and I was angry when I walked into the Twix & Tween,” said Edmonds, 82. “So, I wrote a check for $81,000 and had a new business.”

It was an ironic transaction since the amount of the check and the year (1981) matched, but Edmonds wasn’t thinking of it at the time.

“Our restaurant is a landmark, but that bypass is taking our business away,” Edmonds said. “We’re doing all we can to stay open and save it.”

One way has been to lease the Twix & Tween to Mary Ann Kornegy, who, along with friends, spent the past week painting, scrapping and washing a place that needed some sprucing up.

“I’ll be doing everything, including being the gofer,” she said. “My goal is to make the restaurant successful again,” she said.

The restaurant’s unusual name resulted from a contest in 1951. The winner came up with Twixt & Tween because it’s between Brent and Centreville.

The prize was a $25 war bond - minus taxes. The Korean War was raging at the time, and the bond seemed appropriate for the owner at the time.

Customers loved the restaurant, especially the barbecue, and Montgomery residents often planned their trips to Tuscaloosa to include lunch at the Twix & Tween.

In addition to its popular barbecue sandwiches and plates, the restaurant, which once stayed open 24 hours a day, also produced some great cheeseburgers.

One night, a displeased customer woke the weary owner about 1 a.m. to let him know his cheeseburger was cold.

“I told him never to come back to my house,” said Edmonds, who later chased a group of noisy young customers away from the restaurant early one morning. That’s when he changed his hours of operation.

UA football coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant and Gene Stallings enjoyed stopping at the Twix & Tween. Photos of them, along with current coach Nick Saban, are posted on walls of the business.

The restaurant has always been a family affair with Edmonds‘ wife, Margaret Ann, and sons Rick and Steve pitching in to help.

The family has tried hard to keep pace with 21 fast-food restaurants and convenience stores within 5 miles of the Twix & Tween, and it hasn’t been easy.

A bigger blow occurred a few months ago when veteran manager Jackie Wilson died of a heart attack just after arriving back home from a long day at the restaurant.

That meant more pressure on the family, and Rick Edmonds began spending much of the day behind the cash register.

The Edmonds are a competitive bunch and aren’t afraid to speak their mind when something gets them riled up.

“Some people just don’t like us,” Rick said. “But, that’s the way we are. Our customers are important to us and if someone isn’t acting right, we let ‘em know.”

Now, about that dill pickle juice. As far as the family’s concerned, it’s as valuable as whatever Coke puts into its legendary soft drink recipe over in Atlanta.

It just doesn’t bring in billions of dollars, though.

___

Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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