When Highway 119 was built in the late 1950s, more traffic came to Clyo. The Tuckasee King Landing and other private ramps were used by fishermen all along the river. Hartridge Reiser and wife Arleta Arden Reiser built two cabins near the new bridge that they rented to fishermen. They had some fishing boats at their landing their customers could use.
For years as the bridge construction continued, Effingham residents would drive to the site and observe progress until the completion of the bridge. Especially on Sunday afternoons, the children would sit in the sand piles and play as people happened to meet there and got out of the vehicles to look across the river site and struck up conversations.
Opened in 1959, the bridge brought South Carolina through traffic and truck transports for the first time through this area. Once the states of Georgia and South Carolina were connected, Hartrige Reiser decided to build and open a concrete-block restaurant in the early 1960s near the bridge on the Georgia side. He named it “Tuckasee King Kitchen.” The restaurant served breakfast, lunch and supper. It specialized in seafood and barbecue. A shrimp dinner with the sides cost $1.50. A hamburger with a drink and fries was $.75. Drinks were 10 cents. (See accompanying menu.)
Cynthia Reiser Rahn recalls that she was 11 years old when the restaurant was built. The times were so different then. She and her comrades would go and sit on the bridge and watch the boats go by. She and her brother Arden worked there at the restaurant. On school nights their parents let Arden drive little sister Cynthia home in the car so they could get ready for bed when the customers came late. This was before Arden was of legal driving age and he got away with it.
Some who worked in the restaurant besides the Reiser family were Trudie Wilson Sapp, Gail Reiser Winskie, Lynn Groover Weitman, Sara Goldwire and Christine Johnson.
At one time Hartridge partnered with Gene Kieffer to run the restaurant. It changed hands several times. Owners included Jeffrey and Claudia Allen, Paul and Margaret Groover, Lucille Kennedy Head, Robert Reiser and May Exley, along with her daughter Julia E. Rahn.
Some who worked over the years were Viola Seckinger, Hazel Groover, Peggy Dasher Bennett, Wilena Smith Loper, Susan Exley, Viola Young, Etta Rose Pinkney, Edmund Exley and Barnard Exley. Others have run it off and on through the years.
I recall that a lot of our South Carolina visitors made a lot of trips to the parking lot. Effingham was a dry county, so they brought their own liquid refreshments from their side of the river. The BYOB-in-the-parking lot customers were often very generous tippers.
May Exley was not open a full year but was known during that time for her Sunday buffet lunch. Raisin bread and good home cooking filled her restaurant with hungry people each Sunday. Catfish, seafood, steaks and other short orders were on the menu for lunch and supper. We served many hamburgers and lots of fries. Tossed salad had to be prepared from heads of lettuce back in that time, and it was my least desired task when I worked for Aunt May.
The abandoned restaurant building is still on the site near Stapleton’s Convenience Store near the bridge on Highway 119 north of Clyo.
This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.