Nothing Screams Local Like the 77 Restaurant

Owner hopes for more students traffic
Brad Dalton, 77 Restaurant owner, speaks with customers about travel baseball.
Brad Dalton, 77 Restaurant owner, speaks with customers about travel baseball.
Kyle Markowitz

Friends, Family, and Ferrum is the heart and soul of the 77 Restaurant.

The smell of hot coffee and home cooking fills patrons when walking into the restaurant.  Staff walk around with smiles on their faces while locals converse with one another.

The 77 has a family of its own.

What’s missing is the support from Ferrum College.

Brad Dalton, current owner and 2003 alumni says he misses the connection he had with the students when he first took over the restaurant.

“Saturdays and Sundays, in particular, we were inundated with college students wanting the breakfast, and COVID comes and eliminated that whole deal there,” Dalton said.  “I would love to get that partnership back with the students and the college.”

Dalton said he saw a decline in students, faculty, and staff a couple years before the pandemic hit and is not sure why.

“As far as the college is concerned, I would like to have that support that was there, five or six years ago,” Dalton said.  “It’s weird how it went from rocking and rolling to getting some students, and a few faculty, but it’s nothing like it used to be.

77 has been in the Village of Ferrum for a long time, and Dalton knows the importance of the students to a business like his.

“Ferrum is very important, the college is very important to myself and a lot of local people, Dalton said.  It means a lot to this community because you have the students, they shop at the Minute Market, they eat here, they eat at Dairy Queen, they go to Dollar General, it’s a lot of tax revenue that’s brought here from the students, and people need to realize how important it is.”

The 77 has been a family-owned business since 1966, when Wallace “Wally” Dalton and Dorothy “Dot” Dalton bought the restaurant from race car driver Paul Radford.

“My grandparents ran it up through 1994, which is when my grandmother passed away,” Dalton said.

His parents, Linda and Larry Dalton, ran the restaurant until Brad bought it in 2007.

“I just want to keep the tradition going,” Dalton said.  “It’s not very often that a business stays in a family and is successful for that many years.”

One tradition held since the Sixties is that the 77 is a cash- or check-only restaurant.

“We are a small business, and those credit vendors take a percentage of what I slide through that card machine,” Dalton said.  “Somewhere like this, that adds up to a lot of money out of my pocket just to slide a card.”

Another trademark was the Monday Night Jams hosted at the restaurant for over a decade.

From 2003 to 2014 the jams were a part of the Crooked Road Music Trail, before Brad’s wife Heidi was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“We quit doing it while she was going through treatments and her surgery, but I miss it,” Dalton said.  “It was nice to hang out with the folks and listen to music, you really become like a family.”

Dalton’s restaurant family was stripped away when the pandemic hit.  The 77 was shut down to only having ten customers inside at a time.

This led Dalton to going strictly curbside orders.

“It was tough, I thought long and hard because I didn’t want my loyal customers to walk up to the door wanting to eat and me have to open the door and tell them you can’t come in because I’m at my maximum of 10,” Dalton said.

77 stayed curbside only from the 2020 pandemic until May 25, 2022.

“It’s still tough today, food costs kill you, and our hours are so different because you can’t find employees,” Dalton said.

Dalton describes the restaurant in one word as caring.

“I have quite a few older customers that need assistance getting in and out of the restaurant on a daily basis. I go outside and get their walker, I’ll hold their arm, whatever needs to happen to get them in here safely,” Dalton said.  “I’ve had numerous customers, or people in general say, ‘That will never happen at another restaurant.’ It goes back to your raisings, and you’re supposed to take care of one another, and I try my very best to do that.”

Dalton helps a group of people almost daily into the shop.

When Joyce Quinn, Brenda Yack, and Roger Yack pull into a parking lot, a car honk can be heard from the inside of the restaurant letting Dalton know they need help getting inside.

“The main thing is the service and the people. This is a little community,” Quinn said. “When people walk in, most people knows everybody, and if they don’t, you say hello to someone. The next time they come in they say hello to you.”

Quinn and the Yacks have been coming to the 77 since 2021.

“We’ve never had a problem meeting people and creating friendship,” Brenda Yack said.  “We’re as local as they come, and this place allows us to get out in the community and meet people like you who we wouldn’t see except in a place like this,” Roger Yack said.

The 77 restaurant is open Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed on Saturday and Monday.

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