Beloved 35-year-old Cobb restaurant gutted by overnight kitchen fire

Dolly's Farmhouse Restaurant was gutted by a fire over the weekend. It has been open 35 years.
Dolly's Farmhouse Restaurant was gutted by a fire over the weekend. It has been open 35 years.

Credit: Courtesy of Tony Ashcraft

Credit: Courtesy of Tony Ashcraft

It’ll be a while before the 89-year-old regulars can come back to Dolly’s Farmhouse Restaurant at 2 p.m. every day for classics like country fried steak and collards.

The beloved South Cobb restaurant was gutted by a fire over the weekend. Dolly’s, on Austell Road, has been serving Southern classics since 1983.

Tony Ashcraft said he got a call from an alarm company the first few minutes of Saturday that something was abnormal at his restaurant. He saw 10 firetrucks as he drove up.

“In my gut, I knew what was wrong,” said Ashcraft, owner and chef.


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Denell Boyd, spokeswoman of Cobb County fire, said the call came in just after midnight. No one was inside or injured.

Investigators at this early stage think the fire started in the kitchen. No foul play is suspected, Boyd said.

Ashcraft said the building is 55 years old, so he wouldn’t be surprised if it was caused by an electrical mishap. He said he checked on his mangled and charred kitchen equipment to find all the knobs in the off position.

The 57-year-old said he has never lived more than 10 miles from the restaurant. He remembers as a 6-year-old the eatery’s namesake, Dolly Arnette, serving him food at another restaurant.


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Diners of all stripes might remember Dolly’s cooking; the restaurant used to serve two meals a day to the 10 or so prisoners at Austell’s jail, according to newspaper archives. Breakfast was “fried or scrambled eggs, grits, and bacon, ham, sausage or streak-of-lean,” and dinner was a meat and three vegetables.

“We serve them like everybody else. I don’t cut any corners,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1988.

Ashcraft, years later and with a catering business of his own, came to Dolly’s in October 2015 to eat. He was greeted by a sign on the door saying it was closed forever. There was an email address if someone wanted to buy the equipment.


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He bought the whole place, and the name, which alone he says cost him $50,000, Ashcraft said. “I wanted it because people knew it.”

And they did.

He's been keeping customers updated on social media about the fire. Between a GoFundMe he started to help support his 13 employees and a Facebook fundraising campaign, people had donated $700 as of Tuesday morning.

He said he’s 95 percent certain they will rebuild, but it’ll take six to eight months. Ashcraft said it was his dream to open his own restaurant, and now he’s gotten a taste.

“Country cooking is what I do.”

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