Growing up near Tampa, Florida, Matt Edwards spent most of his time either on the baseball diamond or at the family-friendly pub his coach owned and operated.
“It was just the place to go. We went on Friday nights and after games. It was just a place to hang out, play cards, throw darts and listen to music. It was just the cornerstone of our little town,” Edwards said. “The back door was always open to us. It has a lot of meaning for me.”
So, it made sense that when Edwards decided to open his own eatery in Centre, Alabama, he would draw inspiration from his boyhood stomping ground.
“For years some of my friends and I wanted to do a pub. There really was nothing here like this at the time,” Edwards said, who also runs an insurance business with his wife, Beverly.
But it was football – not baseball – that ultimately led Edwards to open the eatery. He traveled to Tampa to see Alabama play Clemson in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. While there, he had to make a detour to his coach’s establishment, where photos of his team’s 1983 Dixie Major World Series championship still are on display.
“What I love is going back to my hometown of Brooksville, Florida, and going to the Red Mule Pub and saying, ‘Here we are’ … I was skinny once,” Edwards said with a big laugh. “We went back to the pub, and all my friends were like, ‘You’ve got to do this.’”
That was January 2017. By that September, Weiss Pub & Eatery had opened on the corner of Main and Coosa streets in an 1882 building that has served many uses over the decades, including a dress shop and dentist office.
Today, the walls and floor have been stripped to their original brick and hardwood. The space is decorated with images of its namesake, Weiss Lake and Dam.
“To me that’s the biggest draw for Centre – the lake,” Edwards said. “We’re all about the water and the lake.”
The tables are shadow boxes filled with local high school sports memorabilia, shrines to Alabama, Auburn and Georgia athletics and tributes to local military members and first responders. There are also old photos of the Weiss Lake Ski Club, fishing and people out on the water.
After announcing plans to open, Edwards asked the community to donate the items to give the place some hometown flair.
“We wanted to capture some of the essence of Centre,” Edwards said. “It’s a hometown, family-friendly pub. It’s bring your teams in after a game. I wanted to make sure we distinguished it from not being a bar.”
Edwards has some restaurant experience, including working from sunrise to late at night at a diner he and his wife ran in Florida. The couple relocated to Centre about 14 years ago when they bought the insurance agency.
“We had a little diner, my wife and I did, that was open six o’clock in the morning until 11 at night and closed two days a year,” Edwards said.
The Weiss eatery serves gourmet sandwiches, wraps, paninis, salads and soups with a full-service bar with craft beer. The coffee shop has several hot and cold brews and pastries.
The eatery is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. The coffee shop is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Matt White is general manager of 12 employees.
“Basically, what we do is really good gourmet sandwiches – if you like Reubens, Cubans, French dip,” White said. “That’s really our specialty and a lot of soups and salads. What we get away from is what everyone else does.”
“I think what we did was jumpstart some other folks. I had two very good friends of mine say now I’m going to do this,” Edwards said.
“All three restaurants have great food and a big variety of choices. The growth on and around Weiss Lake is providing services needed for visitors as well as locals,” Hulgan said. “The F.C. Weiss Pub and Eatery is a fabulous venue. Its memorabilia of the history of Weiss Lake and the community makes it a true attraction. It’s a place where locals go to enjoy the company, and everybody knows your name.”
“We had been opened for two months and then I got orders. I was gone for nine months. I’m doing a lot, but the staff runs the show,” he said.
A second F.C. Weiss Pub & Eatery is under construction in downtown Fort Payne and is expected to open by the end of the year.