New's still attracts crowd after 60 years
LUNCHTIME AT NEW'S – Charlie Beddington, left, sprinkles salt on his french fries at New's Restaurant while owner and operator Richard Belvin, right, keeps an eye on the rest of the crowd. The North Meridian business has long been a popular lunch and dinner place for many residents. Photo by William F. West / The Meridian Star.
By William F. West / The Meridian Star
Nov. 24, 2002
Lunchtime at New's Restaurant quickly draws a crowd just like it has for much of the 60 years the 5020 Old Poplar Springs Drive eatery has been in business.
Folks pull up chairs at tables or sit on stools at the counter. They eat their meals, watch television or talk among themselves or with the waitresses.
Richard Belvin, the restaurant's owner, works the cash register, sticking layers of tickets on a desk pin on the counter. The restaurant can seat about 100 people at a time.
New's is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The menu includes home-cooked meals at lunch and seafood and steaks at night; most people can buy a lunch or dinner for about $6.
Belvin, 54, said his business succeeds in an era of fast-food chains and larger brand-name restaurants because he and his employees provide a priceless personal touch.
It doesn't take long to get to know the customers many of whom hail from Meridian and are longtime patrons. They freely praise the place they've visited as long as they can remember.
Charlie Beddington, 44, said he's been eating at New's ever since he was 4 or 5 years old.
Jason Anders, 28, said he likes the food and the conversation and also the fact that he's keeping his dollars in Meridian.
Terry Covington, 48, said his staple the past three years has been a New's lunch of turnip greens, corn bread, tea and Boston Cream Pie.
Covington broke the place's low-key atmosphere into laugher when asked what he likes about the restaurant.
New's even has had its share of celebrity customers. A picture of actor Patrick Swayze at New's hangs on the wall near the restaurant's entrance.
Swayze ate at New's on Sept. 25, 1995, while visiting rancher friends in Newton. Longtime waitress Vickie Moulds said she remembers Swayze's visit like it was yesterday.
New's opened in June 1942 as a Shell gas station that also sold hamburgers. A black-and-white picture hangs on the restaurant wall, showing what it looked like as a gas station.
Hattie New and her husband, Herman, operated the business. She continued to operate it after her husband died and she remarried.
Belvin's mother, Louise, worked at New's in the 1950s. And for a time in the early 1960s, Belvin also worked there as a carhop.
New's stopped selling gas in the 1960s. Louise Belvin bought the business in 1972; she later sold it to her son in 1978 and he's kept things much the same ever since.
Quoting the often-used phrase, he said his business philosophy is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."