Red Bay | What was once just an open field on the way to Mississippi has quickly been developed into what will become a top-notch regional destination for recreational vehicle owners.
Red Bay Acres is part of the development being constructed in the West Franklin County Industrial Park. It is being built in conjuction with Girard Systems, an RV awning manufacturing facility which is now in operation.
“We started production two weeks ago,” said Girard Systems’ Johnnie Mathiasen, who along with Marcia Girard, President and CEO, form the leadership of the company. “We have hired 12 people and are going through a training period. We’ll be in production within about two weeks.”
Mathiasen and Girard’s Red Bay Acres project is still several weeks from completion, and the longer it has taken to build the park, the bigger the vision has gotten.
“The rain really slowed everything down on construction. Everything has taken so much time it’s given us too much time to think,” Mathiasen said. “We expanded what our original plan was for the RV park.”
Mathiasen joked that the longer the project has gone on, the more things they have decided to add to the property, which has changed plans multiple times – but all for the better.
The two most visible signs on the development now are the Red Bay Acres General Store, which will serve campground customers and the general public as well, and a multi-acre lake.
The store will carry goods and items at the store ranging from snacks and drinks to clothing and fishing gear. The store’s down-home look and feel were inspired by Cracker Barrell’s façade. Originally the building was only going to be guard house at the property’s entrance.
The lake, which features a bridge over the middle, will have fountains sending water 20 feet into the air, with blue LED accent lighting on the bridge and pier railings. A walking track will circle the lake. Behind the general store and restaurant will be a dog-park with built-in watering system will allow guests to have a safe, private place for their pets to play.
Also under construction is a restaurant that will serve campground customers and local residents alike. Known as the Red Bay Yacht Club, the 3,500-square-foot restaurant will have indoor and outdoor seating, with bumper buoys along the outside dock wall facing the development’s.
“We’re going to be serving breakfast and lunch to start,” Mathiasen said. “We want to kind of cater to Tiffin guys going to work, with sausage, eggs, breakfast burritos, that kind of thing. For lunch we’ll be serving cheeseburgers, fries – the basics.”
The menu and operating hours of the restaurant will be worked out over time, but plans are to be open from 5 a.m. until 2 to 3 p.m. The restaurant will be a first for Girard and Mathiasen.
“We’ve never owned a restaurant before, but we’ve been in a lot of them,” he said.
While the restaurant and store will be open to the public, Mathiasen said the first priority will be allowing those staying on the property to have a quiet, peaceful stay.
“We want to give people in the park privacy,” he said. “We already have all kinds of people inquiring daily about when we’ll be open.”