Fabiano's & The Alamo

Amy Murphy Sets Her Eyes On The Future

by Clay Neely - clay@newnan.com


Photo by Clay Neely

Amy Murphy poses with an original projector from the Alamo theater. Murphy is poised to open another restaurant downtown, the Meat 'N Greet, in January. 

When Amy Murphy left New York City in 2000, her journey ultimately brought her to Newnan. Compared to living in Atlanta, it was a considerably better commute to her job at Lone Oak Tree Farm near Hogansville, and as a native of Peachtree City, it seemed like a good fit.

However, upon her arrival she took stock of her surroundings. She loved the town, the location, the people and the history, but she came up with just one discrepancy.

“I just kind of noticed that there wasn’t too much to do,” said Murphy.

As she was driving through town one day in early 2004, she saw a “For Sale” sign on the old Alamo theater building and thought to herself, “Now that would be a great place for a restaurant or entertainment venue.”

Fast forward almost 10 years and Murphy’s intuition has proven to be correct. The Alamo continues to be one of the most popular entertainment venues in Newnan, regularly hosting live music, Sunday evening viewings of “The Walking Dead” along with poker and trivia nights. Fabiano’s and the Alamo have thrived through the ups and downs of the economic uncertainty of the last four years and are looking toward the future.

Fabiano’s and the Alamo both operate under one licence. “It’s one business, one license. It’s just a door that separates the two,” explained Murphy. “Joe (Crain) sold the property to us and they were amazing to us throughout the entire process — very supportive. Joe said to me ‘make us proud,’ which I assumed meant ‘don’t make us sorry we sold it to you,’” Murphy joked.

Murphy explained how incredibly accommodating the city made her feel from the start. “The Main Street manager at the time, Linda Bridges, helped us from A to Z and made the process so easy,” said Murphy.

“I really can’t say enough about the great help we got from the city. They were so warm and embracing toward our vision. It really made the process easy for us. Even the little things like being able to keep the original tin ceiling in Fabiano’s.”

According to Murphy, an owner has to fireproof the upstairs space on a building they own. “The regulations don’t call to fire rate a ceiling but you have to fire rate a floor. It’s all how you word it.”

“One day the mayor at the time was jogging by and we grabbed him, brought him inside and asked him to take a look at the ceiling. “We asked him, ‘Hey, how do we keep this?’ The original ceiling can’t be pulled down and then put back up. It just wouldn’t work.”

Upon further inspection the mayor told Murphy, “It really is beautiful. We’re going to keep it. Let’s just figure out how.”

“So, we were able to fire rate the floor above it. It’s just a layer, but it just matters where you put it,” said Murphy.

Turning a former gift shop into a fully-functioning restaurant and entertainment venue was going to be a steep journey. “We had to do nuts to bolts,” said Murphy. “The plumbing, electrical, kitchen and bathrooms.”

It ultimately got done and it got done the way Murphy had envisioned it.

“Our first event was six months after we took ownership of the property. We had a big ‘thank you’ party for the city of Newnan and everyone who had helped us out along the way. A small band at the time called Sugarland played that Friday night at the party. Then, on the following Monday, the band’s first single came out. All the patrons had a good time but didn’t know who the band was. On Monday, they sure did,” said Murphy.

So what would be Murphy’s biggest challenge since opening a unique venue like Fabiano’s/ Alamo in Newnan?

“Frankly, just hoping the community would embrace the business,” said Murphy.

“At that time it was kind of a big deal. On one hand, to have a venue on the corner that would be perceived as a bar and also for the public to embrace Fabiano’s, the pizza concept. I just kept wondering ‘are people going to come? Are they going to like it?’ I think that’s the biggest concern of almost any business owner.”

“And honestly, I don’t look like most people here on the Court Square,” said Murphy. “I’m gay, I’m tattooed; in theory that shouldn’t never have worked in a town like Newnan, but it has.”

A true testament to the massive amount of support and goodwill Murphy has garnered from the community since opening the doors in 2004 came just five years ago, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“At the time, I was meeting lots of great people and really feeling like a part of the community. When I was diagnosed, my medical bills were crazy. In my ten years of working in Newnan, one of the things that really sticks out the most to me was how I was embraced during this period,” said Murphy. “People planned a benefit for me at the Alamo and it was one of the things that meant the most to me. The amount of outpouring from the community was so incredible."

Prior to her acquisition of the Alamo and Fabiano’s, Murphy had never worked a single day in a restaurant. “I just knew I wanted to do something so I would have somewhere to go and something to do. This is my baby,” said Murphy. “This is where my heart is.”

And no job is off-limits for the owner. “I will work 40 hours in the kitchen and I’ll clean the toilets. There isn’t a job here that I haven’t done and won’t do. That’s my idea of a business owner. Possessing the ability and mindset to do anything that needs to be done to help the business.”

Murphy has two business partners and they meet on a weekly basis. In her opinion, the most important aspect to a continuing successful business model is the attention paid to communication. “Meeting once a week to stay on top of things and communicate. I think that’s a crucial part of our success,” said Murphy.

Ultimately, Murphy would like to see more restaurants and nightlife in downtown Newnan and she’s taking the lead — recently purchasing the currently vacant buildings of Zaza and the adjacent law office.

The name of the new restaurant? The Meat ‘N Greet. “I would have done this sooner, but after the breast cancer I couldn’t pull long hours. I finally got my five-year clear, so I figured, okay, I’m feeling good, strong again, ready to hit this head on again. Let’s do another place on the square. Those buildings went up for sale and we bought them,” said Murphy. “We do what we do.”

Murphy admits she has a vision for downtown Newnan and hears support for her concepts frequently. “I’ll do it, I’ll bring it,” she promises.

“I’m really excited about it. We’re going to gut the law office and open up the two spaces and adjoin them with a horseshoe-shaped bar. We’ll be serving some good barbecue, awesome craft burgers along with a selection of high-end bourbon and local craft beer,” said Murphy.

“We really want to open up that corridor on Jefferson Street. With the Rednexican opening up and the relocation of The Cellar, it’s going to be good for everybody,” said Murphy. She plans on opening the Meat ‘N Greet at the same time as The Cellar, which is moving to the old Firestone building at Wesley Street — early January 2014.

“In order for downtown to grow and thrive, we need more restaurants and entertainment. In turn, the patrons will shop the local shops,” said Murphy.

“The community is ready for it. Everyone is excited about this. I’m very invested in Newnan and, in turn, Newnan has been very good to me.”

“When the opportunity and the need is there, I’m ready to fill it. Then everyone wins. The community, the city and the business owners,” said Murphy.

“I’m very blessed. Newnan has been so good to me.”

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