From the tile entrance to the bar crafted of the building's original heart pine floor joist, Knight's 1889 remembers its past as it prepares for the future.
Recognizing a need for improvement, Knight changed the daytime menu to country-style meat and vegetables about six months ago. With positive response to the change and in coordination with Wednesday's celebration of their four-year anniversary, Knight's will begin offering the same menu options for evening customers.
"We've come a long way with things. We went from a Cajun menu that had all sorts of things with Cajun ideas on it and we tried to find a niche in Cartersville," Knight said. "We tried that for a while and gave it a good effort and it just didn't work as well as we wanted it to. So we started changing the menu a little by little, gradually, and tried to see what we could do with everything. What we found out, what works the best in Cartersville is country food. So we started bringing the country food during the daytime and we make everything by scratch."
Beginning next week, that gradual change will extend into the downtown eatery's evening fare. Other changes coming down the pike will include opening their doors on Sundays for homestyle meals in a slightly more refined atmosphere. Server attire and music will be altered for Sunday diners scheduled to begin within the coming month.
The evolution of offerings has been a constant challenge for Knight. Paying attention to customers and translating feedback into action is what keeps their doors open, he said.
"We want feedback, that's how mom-and-pop restaurants survive is the feedback from the public," Knight said. "With the economy the way it is, we're just trying to do what we can to stay here. We don't want to close. I don't want to close. If I close I'll put all these people out of a job."
Knight is a relative newcomer to the food service industry. Having spent seven years in law enforcement with the Bartow County Sheriff's Department, he was forced to make a "difficult decision" after the death of his father in 2003. Leaving the sheriff's department, he manned the family hardware store, which was founded in 1866, before coming to the realization his father had warned him that the store would not survive.
"I came from a law enforcement background. I didn't come from a cooking background. Dad passed away that owned the business. I was at the sheriff's office, I was the only child. I had to do something with the hardware store that was here," Knight said. "I always believed, what one man can do, another man can do."
With that attitude, Robert Knight and his mom, Faye Knight, invested in the historic downtown building to create what became Knight's 1889. As the hardware store was passed down through the generations, the restaurant is now something Robert Knight hopes to keep within the family.
"I'm that first generation right now trying to get it set up. I've got the building, I've got a beautiful bar, a beautiful establishment," Robert Knight said. "Trying to find the right niche of food has been the mystery."
Knight's 1889 is open Tuesday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday hours will be announced by the restaurant when times are established. For more information, call 678-605-1889.