Rocky’s Grill & Soda Shop, a longtime fixture in downtown Brevard, will reopen this summer
under new local ownership. The hot dog-centric menu and original decor of red-and-white
checked floors, swivel stools and counter will remain unchanged. The endearing ambiance and
tradition that made the luncheonette and ice cream shop a favorite of Transylvanians and tourists
alike closed in August 2023.

Stacey and Jason Rhodes of Brevard closed on the purchase of the restaurant and adjacent
Corner Market on July 1 from prior owners Dee Dee and Jimmy Perkins. For the Rhodes it
marks a major change in their lives, but it is a challenge they are gladly ready to face.
Although the couple said the chance to take over the iconic eatery is a little bit daunting, they are
ready to roll up their sleeves to welcome back faithful customers. “We are grateful for the
opportunity,” said Stacey. “We want people to walk back in like it never closed.” It will be their
first experience in the food service business, but the Perkins will help them assimilate to the
hustle and bustle of a restaurant that welcomed more than 70,000 patrons each year.

How the Rhodes got to this point is a poignant story in itself. After their daughter Amber passed
away in 2015, the Rhodes needed a change. Stacey, then an x-ray technician at the county
hospital and Jason, a building inspector for the county, took on an entirely new career: as a long-
haul truck team. Together they logged about 150,000 miles per year hauling pharmaceutical
products. Yet they knew “the time would come when we would get off the road, and return
home” said Stacey.

And the chance came unexpectedly last August. As Stacey drove the 18-wheeler and Jason tried
to sleep in the rear of the cab, his phone beeped. Up popped a story on the closing of Rocky’s.
The pair, 30-year residents of Brevard, knew the Perkins and Stacey pulled the big rig off the
road in Virginia and after a brief ‘that would be fun’ conversation they sent Dee Dee a text to
express their interest.

Yet others were interested too. There were so many inquiries that the Perkins kept a list of names
and contact information stuck on the diner’s coffee grinder.  But there was a complicated real
estate part that took the Perkins some time to resolve before they could pursue finding a buyer.
In April, the Perkins began contacting names on their list, and reached out to Jason and Stacey.
Not long after the initial text, the first Zoom call was held and there was a “snowball effect” and
the possibilities got bigger and bigger,” said Jason. The duo acknowledged their interest may not
pan out, but it was certainly worth exploring and this could feed their entrepreneurial spirit
destination and we want to have fun with it,” said Jason. Stacey termed it “a perfect fit and good
timing” for the couple.

The Rhodes persisted and returned to Brevard shortly before this year’s White Squirrel Festival
to meet with the Perkins, walk through the building and work on some numbers. That the
Rhodes were locals certainly helped their effort. Dee Dee Perkins said some potential buyers,
including some out-of-towners, wanted to overhaul the venerable restaurant into something else
or buy the place but not want to actively manage it. Others sought to buy Rocky’s but not the
Corner Market. Those ideas were non-starters for the Perkins.

The Rhodes are the perfect buyers in part because they and the Perkins both know what Rocky’s
meant to its clientele after almost 30 years as a bedrock of the downtown community. Dee Dee
said she and her husband, Jimmy could hardly go anywhere in town without being asked ‘What’s
happening with Rocky’s?’ “The community really wants Rocky’s to be here,” said Dee Dee.
Although many people expressed an interest, she said it was important to “separate the romantics
from the realists” who understand how much it takes to run a business. Even so, “the romantic
part is important because you had to experience Rocky’s” to appreciate what it meant to our
customers, she said.

The Rhodes understand that local dynamic. Their son Garrett, 29, worked at Rocky’s when he
was in high school. They sat at Rocky’s lunch counter often. “Like our own kids, Adam and
Allie, Garrett and Amber grew up coming to Rocky’s,” said Jimmy. “The Rhodes want to be at
the door welcoming guests, a value that locals treasure,” added Dee Dee. “There is no family
more perfect to carry on the tradition of Rocky’s than the Rhodes. They bring a wealth of
enthusiasm, passion, creativity, and work ethic to the business,” she said.
Among the first order of business is to hire staff, from greeters to cooks to wait staff and malt
makers. Inquiries can be made at the store.

From their end, the soon-to-be entrepreneurs are a mix of excitement and, yes, some nerves. “It’s
a risk but we are eager to go for it,” said Jason. Together, with help from the Perkins, they will
“learn everything they can from A to Z,” said Stacey. She added “So far none of this feels
real” but reality will happen when the Rhodes unlock the door on their first day and welcome
their first customers. When that happens, “Wow, here we go,” said Stacey.


By David Bradley