Fort Valley community helps owner reopen restaurant

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FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A Peach County family is saying ‘thank you’ to the community. Residents pitched in to help reopen their restaurant after its owner had to close his doors almost 10 years ago to take care of his family. 

When you walk into the Railroad Cafe, you better come with an appetite. 

For Jeff Hall, the restaurant’s four walls is a place he calls home. 

"Before long it was steaming down the tracks, it was doing well," Jeff says. 

The restaurant, right in the heart of Fort Valley, serves breakfast and lunch and you’ll get your money’s worth. It’s a family affair — Jeff, his wife Wendy, and their two kids Ciara and Landon are always here, but it wasn’t always that way. 

Sometime life has a way of taking you off the tracks. 

Ciara was born with congenital glaucoma, leaving her blind — public school wasn’t working out. 

"I feel like I left before everything was kind of finalized. I feel like there was work incomplete to be done here," Jeff says. 

The cook had to close his dream, moving his family to Florida, so Ciara could attend the renowned school for the deaf and the blind. 

"I remember when I first got there, I was scared because I was really shy," Ciara says. 

"She was able to come out of her shell and blossom into a beautiful little girl and it was just awesome," Jeff said while shedding a few tears. 

Ciara blossomed, gaining a 4.0 and becoming the salutatorian of her call — and then there was a call. 

"It’s so overwhelming that it meant so much for them for Fort Valley and the community and it really hits me hard now," Jeff says. 

After announcing on Facebook he was headed back to Georgia, Fort Valley residents wanted Jeff to open up the cafe again — this time withe their help and support. 

"Two dreams come true, I suppose. It came true the first time and it was kind of short lived. For it to actually come true again is even more amazing," says Jeff. 

"He was just in his element and so I could just hear him back there ‘order up’ and it was just really emotional for me," Ciara says. 

So after almost 10 years and the support of a community, the railroad cafe is reopen and a family is on a mission to keep steam rolling ahead. 

"I’m glad to be back, I really am," Jeff says. 

Ciara received a full-ride scholarship to Wesleyan College, a short drive from the restaurant where she’s close to family and friends. The Railroad Cafe is open Monday thru Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 311 Skyler joined the 41 NBC News Team in April 2013. He anchors the news at 6 p.m. and also covers stories going on throughout the day. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb right outside of Atlanta. Before heading to Middle Georgia, Skyler worked as a stage manager for WSB- TV in Atlanta. Skyler graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Multimedia Communication. He went to school initially to be an architect, but one step inside of the student radio station changed everything. While at Georgia Southern, he was exposed to radio and television and became the Program Director of the student radio station and was a part of a team that received a Southeast Regional student Emmy for their work on the program "Inside Georgia Southern Football." Skyler anchored and reported for Georgia Southern University's "Eagle News." There he covered the 2010 midterm elections live as well as reported on stories in the community. In the Spring 2012, Skyler interned for Clear Channel in Los Angeles, California. Skyler is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. In his free time, you can find Skyler watching the latest movies and reading up on all things in Hollywood. He also loves spending time with his family and friends and finding inspirational quotes. He loves telling stories about politics, tax dollars at work in the community, and highlighting people and business who don’t normally get the spotlight. If you have any story ideas, email Skyler at shenry@41nbc.com.