Last Monday I drove past and saw the the space was no longer Willie Mae's. It has been reborn as Down South Burgers and Rib Haus.
Along with burgers, barbecue and catfish the restaurant also serves breakfast in the morning.
The new restaurant already seems to be a hit with local residents. In my previous visit to Willie Mae's I was the only customer there. This time there were plenty of people eating burgers at tables and picking up carry-out burgers. And those burgers looked and smelled good enough that I was tempted to try a double instead of sampling the ribs. But I'm on a barbecue quest so I got a rib dinner. Down South doesn't have baked beans so I an order of onion rings to go with my barbecue and cole slaw.
Like when the place was called Willie Mae's that rib dinner came with just a third of a slab of ribs. But the dinner was less than $10 and the ribs had plenty of meat on them. The sauce was a definite improvement over the syrupy glaze my ribs had been drowning in during my Willie Mae's visit. The had a nice charred crust on them but were still tender and juicy.
The slaw was ultra-creamy, which isn't my personal preference at all. The onion rings were good and should make a great complement to one of the restaurant's double cheeseburgers that I will definitely be trying on my next visit based on the ones I saw other customers devouring.
The building was cleaned up considerably before it reopened as Down South. There still isn't anything remotely fancy about it; it's just a simple place to pick up some honest Southern food. But from a business standpoint I can easily understand that a lot of potential customers see what I referred to as "the unfakeable, well-earned patina of a true survivor" in my Willie Mae's post as reason to dine elsewhere. A good scrubbing with some fresh paint; new counter and floors; and matching tables, chairs and table clothes definitely creates a more welcoming impression.