In 1986, Ronnie Gordon began cleaning the Basket Shack in south Canton, which at that time was owned by Sarah King. Since 2011, Gordon’s family has owned the restaurant, and today they are serving up an abundance of food, including the Basket Shack’s longtime standard — chili burger and battered fries — to customers old and new alike.
Gordon’s journey to being a part of the family that owns the restaurant was a long one. In the mid-1980s, Gordon came in after the restaurant closed to do the sweeping and mopping and clean the restroom.
“I remember thinking, ‘I sure would like to own this place if it ever came up for sale,’” he said.
After he quit cleaning the restaurant, Ronnie still ate there periodically. As the years passed, and he worked other jobs, he still had the desire to own one of his own.
In 1999, his neighbor told him about a food stand that her daughter owned and wanted to sell in a flea market off Highway 41.
Gordon became the owner of the food stand, which he named Judy’s Concession Stand for his wife, who he says had plenty of experience cooking for their eight children, one who was 5 at the time.
For the next two years, Gordon worked a full-time job during the week and was up at 5 a.m. on Saturday and Sundays to run the food stand. Eventually he decided to sell it so the family could attend church on Sundays.
On May 6, 2011, he retired from his job as a warehouse manager and custom wood shutter fabricator with the intention of relaxing and doing some fishing. Things changed six days later when Gordon heard the Basket Shack was for sale.
He called Tom Whitfield, who owned the eatery for 20 years. He was selling because of his desire to be a police officer.
The two men met and after a meeting the health department, they struck a deal. On May 19, 2011, Gordon’s two sons, Timon and Tyler, purchased the Basket Shack. Gordon serves as the manager.
He calls the customers the main ingredient and the staple of the business.
“While it is a lot of hours, we all enjoy it, and especially enjoy our customers who are like family to us,” Gordon said of finally realizing his dream. “This restaurant is a family affair.
The restaurant offers breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday, including a meat and vegetable plate that changes daily; Southern fried chicken every day they are open; desserts cooked on the premises, and specials of all types.
Monday’s special is roast beef and rice with vegetables such as mashed potatoes, green beans, cole slaw, crowder peas and sliced tomatoes on the menu. On Tuesday, the special is pork chops and Wednesday is what Gordon calls meat loaf day.
Every other Thursday, chicken and dressing tops the specials, with the alternating Thursdays being Surprise Day featuring specials such as fried steak and gravy and sauerkraut and wieners. On Friday, the Basket Shack offers Sloppy Joes.
Desserts such coconut pie, chocolate pie and lemon pie and sometimes cheesecakes are on the menu everyday.
Customers can indulge in banana pudding on Monday and peach cobbler on Friday.
“The rewards include working with people. We have a lot of older people who come in regularly,” Gordon said. “They are our main ingredient and I enjoy talking to them and getting to know them.”
One regular, Hoyt Champion, celebrated his 80th birthday at the restaurant recently and the family cooked him a steak and got him a cake to make the day special.
“Our customers are a part of our family,” Gordon said. In addition to the family, Mary Ann Wilson is a familiar face at the restaurant as chief dishwasher and sometimes cook.
The Basket Shack is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m Monday to Saturday. Breakfast is served from 7 to 11 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Basket Shack is located at 1054 Marietta Road. To go orders are also available by calling (770) 479-3211.
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
Prebaked pie shell
2 cups sweetened whipped cream or whipped topping
Beat flour, sugar and milk together, then add yolks, vanilla, salt and butter in medium saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring until it thickens, and then add chocolate. Pour chocolate mixture into a pie shell and cool.
Top with whipped topping and smooth out. Chill.