A feast for the Senses

by | Dec 1, 2011 | Community Commerce

During the holidays, good food and family go together like comfort and cheer. Whether the feast is at the kitchen table or at an elegant restaurant, a well-prepared meal with family and friends makes the holidays brighter. 
At Savanah’s Restaurant, 208 North Front Street in Dardanelle, the staff follows this philosophy all year long.
Co-owners and long-time friends, Myra and Tim Strecker and Lorrie and Wendell Miller consider themselves a “family unit” and want customers to feel just as comfortable when they eat at Savanah’s.
To set the stage for a great holiday experience, the restaurant is lavishly decorated.
“Every room has a Christmas Tree and other displays that give the entire restaurant a glittering spirit of the holidays. Our decorations seem to make all our patrons happy and festive,” said Myra Strecker who has worked at the restaurant since 2002 when she and husband, Tim, along with his parents, Charles and Nelda Strecker opened Savanah’s, named after Tim Strecker’s grandmother and daughter.

Before that, Charles and Nelda owned “John Does,” a successful restaurant in Pine Bluff, so for the multi-generational Streckers, running a restaurant really is the “family business.” But, when Nelda was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and passed away in 2009, and Charles retired in 2010, Myra and Tim were left to run the restaurant without the help of family.
“We realized the restaurant was just too much work for only two people to run, so we approached the Millers with a partnership opportunity,” said Myra.

Lorrie and Wendell joined the “family” in March 2011 and it has been full steam ahead since. Soon after the partnership was formed, Chef Zac King was brought on to ensure the highest of food quality.
“We still use Nelda’s recipes – the same marinade for the prime rib, the twice-baked potatoes, the homemade dressings, the Italian crème cake and the homemade yeast rolls made fresh every day, but Chef King has brought a new level of cooking expertise and plans the daily menu, said Tim.

Steaks are our specialty, but we have also expanded our menu items, and our patrons seem to like that, said Tim.
Savanah’s offers more than well-prepared food and holiday ambiance, however. Located right on the river, the restaurant also dishes up a bit of Dardanelle history.
Overlooking the back patio is a giant cottonwood tree that may be the oldest tree of its kind along the Arkansas River and was full grown when the old pontoon bridge was built nearby and opened in 1891.
The history of the building has been very hard to trace, said Wendell Miller, but was at one time a Studebaker dealership. Studebaker stopped producing vehicles in 1963. Throughout the years, the building has been occupied by various other business, but had been vacant for several years when the Streckers purchased it.
Many charming remnants of the original building, like the double-bay doors inside the building and shop doors at the side for moving vehicles, can still be seen.
“We wanted to maintain the charm of the old building, so we kept the original floor and had the brick walls inside sand blasted to remove the paint. There was so much dust flying around it, some people thought the place was on fire,” said Myra with a laugh.
Today, in place of the old auto shop in back is Savanah’s “glass room.” This room is aptly named as it is surrounded by non- stop windows that show off the view of the river and the old cotton wood tree, as well as the back deck where parties and wedding are occasionally held.
“Because of the ambiance and atmosphere, we’ve had lot of proposals and several weddings here,” said Myra. “We always love it when these couples come back for an anniversary. We always try to make a big deal of it,” she added.

The restaurant also hosts a lot of holiday parties.” A lot of families like to come here because of all the festive holiday decorations. We go all out for the holidays and are probably the most festively decorated restaurant in River Valley, said Lorrie.
“Joe Turner with Cathy’s Flowers has been decorating here for Christmas since it opened and does a beautiful job. Our decorations have grown over the years and it’s something different every year. Every section has a Christmas tree and a theme. We want everybody to enjoy it!” said Myra.
Not surprisingly, Savanah’s does a lot of Christmas parties, from family to corporate. “We can customize the menu with special dishes, like turkey or ham, which is usually not on our menu. It’s their party, their Christmas, and we try to accommodate it.
For information and reservations, call Savanah’s Restaurant at 479 (229-3425.) For additional information, visit the Savanah’s web page at: savanahsrestaurant.com or email: info@savanahsrestaurant.com.
ABOUT Savannah’s

Established in 2002, Savanah’s Restaurant has been described as “Fine Dining in a Casual Atmosphere.” The intimate setting, with attention to every detail, blends the flavors of ‘big city’ dining with the classic charm and tradition of the South.
At Savanah’s, the goal is to provide customers with a unique dining experience, unparalleled in quality. Their dishes are sure to delight everyone’s palate from tender, juicy steaks to delicious seafood to gourmet burgers.
Come to the restaurant to relax with family, celebrate a special occasion or enjoy the rolling of the Arkansas River with a tall glass of iced tea.
Hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. for Lunch, and Tuesday through Saturday, 5 until 10 p.m. for Dinner. Children 12 and under eat free on Tuesdays.

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