Savannah restaurant, ‘Debi’s,’ moving to Bay Street
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - If you know Downtown Savannah, you know Debi’s Restaurant has served customers on Wright Square for nearly three decades.
The restaurant, made famous in “Forrest Gump,” began a new chapter on Wednesday, moving a few blocks north to Bay Street.
“Mom started the business in 1972, and it was called ‘Casamaria.’ She changed it to ‘Debi’s,’ after me. I’ve worked with her since I was 14, so she named it Debi’s thinking I would stay forever, and I did, so she’s a good gambler," Christiansen said.
Christensen has decades of memories working in her family restaurant. Last year, she found out her building was being sold and the investor wanted to turn it into luxury apartments. Debi’s would have to close its doors.
“I didn’t make any other plans until the owner of E Bay Inn said, Hey, I heard you had to move. Would you be interested in renting out the restaurant downstairs from our inn?' At first, I said no.”
She says she is thankful she made the right decision.
“The people there are so nice and so willing to do anything to help me. It’s been great. It’s really been a blessing. It’s bittersweet. We hate to leave here, but sometimes moving to a new location is a good thing,” she said.
The move will, unfortunately, take away some of Debi’s history. In 1994, Debi’s Restaurant made its Hollywood Debut in Forrest Gump.
"They came in and filmed, and it was great; brings a lot of people to the area. People are constantly taking pictures outside the restaurant and coming in and saying, ‘Did they really film here? what was it like?' "We hate to lose that, but I don’t know how to incorporate that. I don’t see how I can do it. They say, 'He can’t run all the way to Bay Street.”
Even though Forrest may not be joining Debi’s in this next chapter, Debi has a positive attitude.
“We had some really good memories; a lot of fun things happened. Everything that I love about this place, I’m going to bring to Bay Street.”
She says at first, she was sad, but working with the new owners has made the transition smooth.
“The people there are so nice and so willing to do anything to help me. It’s been great," she said. "It’s really been a blessing. It’s bittersweet. We hate to leave here but sometimes moving to a new location is a good thing. Oh, I love downtown. I’ve been downtown since i was 14-years-old. I love downtown. I can’t imagine anybody not loving downtown Savannah.”
If all goes as planned, she hopes to have the new Debi’s open within a couple of weeks.
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