Oby’s restaurant changes ownership after 43 years of service

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OKTIBBEHA COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s been serving up Cajun cuisine in Starkville for more than 40 years.

Now a long-time favorite eating spot is changing hands.

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The owner of Oby’s closed the sale of his restaurant Tuesday.

Every day, owner Don O’Bannon woke up early in the morning and headed out the door ready to serve hundreds of hungry stomachs.

But his routine is going to look a little bit different now as he starts retirement.

“I opened up the building and started this place, I started from scratch. It’s been a wonderful ride, I can’t express it. It’s been great,” said O’Bannon.

In 1976, Don O’Bannon set out to bring New-Orleans dining to North Mississippi. He opened a 55-seat restaurant and called it Oby’s.

“I started off with 12,000 square feet. White walls, white ceilings, white floor, metal chairs it was horrible. We had to make changes constantly but we’re so much more proficient now than ever,” said O’Bannon.

For 43 years, O’Bannon worked hard to create a place where residents could order a unique style of cajun food in Starkville and surrounding areas.

But now, he said now it’s time to pass the torch.

“I’m a blessed man to have gotten to this point and I’m ready to hand it off,” said O’Bannon.

O’Bannon sold his ownership of Oby’s to Ayers Spencer. And he’s no stranger.

He said the two go way back in his younger days.

“When he started talking to us about his interest to retire he told him we’re not going to let anybody else get it. This is our baby, we want to take it and run with it. I grew up in the restaurant when I went to school here. Oby’s was the staple, the roast beef was always my go-to,” said Spencer.

That’s why he chose to buy the business and help keep Don’s legacy alive.

“When you got a 43-year track record of success you’re not going to come in here and re-write the book. We’re not coming in to change. There may be little things to grow the business, like we plan to focus more on our catering operations and doing more of than out of this location,” said Spencer.

In the meantime, O’Bannon said it’s not goodbye. It’s a bittersweet hello to a new beginning.

“It’s in my blood, I love this business. A lot of men wouldn’t do what I do for a living but I love it. If I had a do-over all over again I’d do the same thing. I’m really looking forward to just taking it easy for a while, I’ve been working hard all my life,” said O’Bannon.

O’Bannon said he’ll be using his retirement to spend more time with his grandchildren and family.

Spencer has already begun his duties as the restaurant’s new owner.

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