Albany business group set to re-open historic restaurant - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany business group set to re-open historic restaurant

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The original Arctic Bear neon sign outside the Merry Acres Inn The original Arctic Bear neon sign outside the Merry Acres Inn
Donna Gray, Albany Resident Donna Gray, Albany Resident
Susan Harper, Thronateeska Board President Susan Harper, Thronateeska Board President
Bo Henry, Stewbo's Co-owner Bo Henry, Stewbo's Co-owner
The former Wagner's barbeque near Dawson Road and Meredyth Drive, which is set to become the new Arctic Bear The former Wagner's barbeque near Dawson Road and Meredyth Drive, which is set to become the new Arctic Bear
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

A restaurant woven into Albany's history could re-emerge early next year.  Stewbo's, a group that owns several restaurants around the city, plans to re-open the Arctic Bear drive-through.

This former Wagner's Bar-be-que on Dawson Road and Meredyth Drive is set to become the new Arctic Bear.  And people who went to the restaurant in their youth are thrilled that it's coming back.

The polar bear licking a giant ice cream cone is a symbol of a special time in Albany.

"It was packed with people all the time," said Donna Gray, Albany Resident.

"Summer nights, begging mommy and daddy to take us down there for a chocolate ice cream cone," said Susan Harper, Thronateeska Board President. 

The Arctic Bear was located on the corner of Oglethorpe Boulevard and Slappey Drive from 1950 until it closed in 1995.  The building became a Checkers restaurant, and the bear found a new home.

"When it closed down, the Thronateeska Heritage Foundation received the sign as the keepers of the sign," Harper said. 

But there wasn't any room to store the giant bear, so Stewbo's, a group that runs the Merry Acres Inn, stored the sign at their hotel for special occasions.  Years later, it sparked an idea.

"We're working closely with the city and everybody and trying to get this off the ground and just excited about the good possibility of bringing the Arctic Bear back," said Bo Henry, Stewbo's Co-owner. 

The group leased the recently closed down Wagner's Bar-be-que building to become the new Arctic Bear.  And aside from the different location, not too much is expected to change.

"I think there might be a Stewbo's flair to it, but we really want to be in contact with the family that knew exactly how everything ran," Henry said. 

Many Albany residents who went to the restaurant as a kid said the burgers and the shakes were just off the charts.  But one menu item stuck out in particular.

"I used to swing through there and get the soft chocolate ice-cream cone.  That was my favorite," Gray said.

"Of course, as a kid, ice cream (laughs)," said Henry.

Though no ice cream is available yet, workers are busy prepping the building for the next generation of Arctic Bear customers.

Henry said a lot of work has to take place before things are finalized.  But he said the company will stay in close contact with the original owners through the planning process.  Stewbo's hopes to open the Arctic Bear by January or February.

 

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