Restaurant, bar opening in Gantt

Published 12:15 am Saturday, August 24, 2013

Misty Lanier and Selena Hammett stand on the pier behind their new venture, Rivers Seven.

Misty Lanier and Selena Hammett stand on the pier behind their new venture, Rivers Seven.

The heat outside Thursday was nothing compared to the enthusiasm the two women exuded as they talked about their dream – Rivers Seven.

By the afternoon, the word was out via social media that Gantt’s newest – and perhaps most unique – venture was accepting applications for 50-plus people to staff the restaurant and bar opening in the old Buckboard location.

Purchased by Selena Hammett and her husband, Matthew, the property has been empty on and off for years, but the couple, along with friend Misty Lanier, believe they’ve come up with a concept that will keep the parking lot full.

“I’ve always wanted to open a bar,” Hammett grinned, voicing her secret desire that is now a reality. “There really is no particular reason why, but just that I always wanted to.”

The former Buckboard property always played a role in her fantasy, and one day, a quick drive by revealed that the property was empty.

“I knew then, this was the time,” she said.

It wasn’t hard to convince her husband to go along with the venture, either. In fact, he was thrilled with the idea, and Hammett couldn’t tell the story without tearing up some.

“We own Hammett Drilling Company,” she said. “Back when we started, it was Hammett & Hammett, and we sunk everything we had into that company. When I told him what I wanted to do, he said to me, ‘You supported me when I needed you, now it’s my turn.’ ”

Enter Lanier – a single mom with two boys, 15 and 13, who has spent nearly two decades in the hospitality industry by working her way up from a waitress to a general manager of several popular chains. Hammett initially approached Lanier about managing the facility; however, their relationship soon changed.

“I’d always had to drive an hour to two hours to work in Florida because that’s where the money is,” Lanier said. “I’m from here. This is my home. My boys go to Straughn. And this is – having this place – it’s my dream. They gave me my dream and asked me if I would be their partner. I never imagined something like this would happen, but it did.”

The name – Rivers Seven – represents the two women and their five respective children.

Now, the two are working diligently to get things “up and running.” Their target opening date is mid-September. Those already on staff are working to clean and ready the inside dining area. Two head chefs have finalized the menu, which will feature steaks, pasta and seafood, as well as wraps, burgers and an assortment of appetizers.

The old Buckboard’s outside dining area will undergo a transformation next week, claiming sections for a bar and stage that will feature live music every weekend.

A wall system is also being installed that will allow the bar to be used in the winter.

And if the concept of a restaurant/bar sounds strange, it shouldn’t, Lanier said.

“It happens every single day if you visit a restaurant in Florida and others in Alabama,” she said. “What we’re going to do is combine the best of both worlds. You’ll be able to get a fabulous meal any time you want it, and we’re going to offer a great nightlife.

“We’re working to get our live music lined up, and we’re working to get everything from local bands like Issues to Frank Foster to acts from Nashville.”

River’s Seven is located on Indigo Loop. Hours of operation will be Monday through Wednesday 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., and Thursday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 4 a.m. and on Saturday from 11a.m. until 2 a.m. They plan to open in mid-September.