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Former hotel owner dies

Staff Report

Former Hotel Talisi owner Bob Brown has died. He was 89.

Brown ran the landmark hotel and restaurant in downtown Tallassee with co-owner and operator Roger Gaither from 1991 until 2006. They also owned the Roxy Gardens, Colonial Room Cafe and Hotel Talisi Annex during that span.

Brown and Gaither purchased the Hotel Talisi from Clyde and Thomas Patterson. They sold it to Tim and Pam Gates.

Brown was the son of a merchant, Robert Lee Brown, who ran Brown Grocery in Fitzgerald, Ga.

"Bob was my treasured and respected friend for 29 years," said Tallassee Historian Bill Goss. "In December 1993, I returned to my hometown of Tallassee and lived one block from Hotel Talisi.

"One Sunday, in December 1993, after I had eaten the buffet at Hotel Talisi, I saw a long line of guests waiting for tables to be cleaned. All of the waiters/waitress were busy bring food to the guests. I got up and started clearing tables. Pat Wisener, who had eaten at a table near me, began helping me. Soon, Bob came from the kitchen and thanked Pat and me. That was my introduction to the amazing Bob Brown. Later, after he learned that I had worked, at age 13-14, in the Palace Cafe (name of restaurant when it was Woodall Hotel), Bob asked me to give tours of Hotel Talisi. Later I cashiered at Hotel Talisi.

"Bob was talented and innovative. He was creative in revamping the Hotel Talisi. He and Roger began renovating Hotel Talisi; took walls out between two smaller rooms and created several suites. They added period furniture and antiques in the rooms, halls and lobby. They improved the buffet by cooking the best fried chicken, including the wishbone, dressing, squash, turnip greens, sweet-potatoes casseroles, watermelon rind pickle and catfish on Fridays. At one time, they served a breakfast buffet."

Goss added that in the hotel's heyday it would serve 1,200-1,500 guests during a four-hour period for lunch for occasions like Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Thanksgiving.

"They would come from all over Alabama, West Central Georgia, Florida Panhandle, and southeast Mississippi," Goss added. "During their 15-year ownership of Hotel Taisi, it became famous and loved. The Hotel Talisi sign-in book had guests stay there from many foreign countries and eat the famous buffet."