In 1954, Ervin and Ruth Moore opened a small café in downtown Jasper. The Moores dreamed of expanding the business, and soon they designed plans for a new building that would seat 180 people, including a private dining room for local meetings and social functions.
In March of 1963, that dream was realized when the new restaurant opened its doors for business. The building stood off a section of Highway 78 then known as the John Patterson White Way, so named because its fluorescent lighting made the highway appear white at night.
And thus was born the White Way Restaurant. Boasting a seating capacity of 200, the White Way served breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The specialty was steaks cooked in a pit over hickory wood, served with rosin potatoes and a salad.
Popularity grew, and the White Way became the regular meeting place for local civic clubs and organizations like the Jasper Rotary Club, the BPW, and the Jasper Lions Club. In 1966 a new dining room was added which seated an additional 200 guests. It featured a cafeteria with meats, vegetables, salads, and desserts.
By 1973, an average of 1500 steaks were being sold every week. Fresh Gulf seafood was also popular, including oysters on the half-shell, fresh snapper, flounder, and shrimp. That December, another private dining room was added called “The Ponderosa Room,” built in a rustic Early American design with a stone fireplace.
The White Way was also known for its notable visitors. George “Goober” Lindsey was a frequent guest. Alabama Coach Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide team dined there before Iron Bowl games. Buford Pusser of “Walking Tall” fame visited while appearing at a grand opening for John Crump Toyota, and former First Lady Barbara Bush was given a gold key to the city in 1980.
Then early one Monday morning in 1990, passersby were shocked to see the skies over Jasper filled with black smoke and the restaurant belching flames. Hours later, the White Way lay in smoldering ruins.
Even though the White Way building is gone, a few remnants can be seen today. The building used for storing dry goods is still there. Some of the original employees work at Moore’s Landing, owned by the Moore’s son, Rusty. In fact, the steak sauce and many of the chairs and serving trays at Moore’s Landing also came from the White Way.