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Mellow Mushroom coming to old Rudolph's location

POSTED: March 14, 2009 12:58 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

The former location of Rudolph's on Green Street will reopen as a Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant.

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A historic home on Green Street that was once a setting for fine dining will reopen in three months as a pizza franchise.

John P. Bush of Gainesville signed a lease agreement Friday for the former Rudolph’s location at 700 Green St. The two-story Victorian home will be the newest Mellow Mushroom restaurant.

Bush already owns a Mellow Mushroom in the Emory area of Decatur on LaVista Road.

"We have owned a Mellow Mushroom for 12 years," Bush said. "I was born and raised here and moved my own family here about nine years ago."

Bush said while Mellow Mushroom stores typically have been placed in storefronts, setting up shop in a former home is nothing new.

"There is a Mellow Mushroom in Clemson, S.C., in an old fraternity house," Bush said.

The chain is owned by Home-Grown Industries of Atlanta with locations primarily in the South, but also operates franchises as far west as Arizona and as far north as Indiana and Ohio.

The casual dining restaurant offers a variety of pizza as well as sandwiches and salads.

Bush said he plans to add an additional restroom and expand the bar area.

"I feel good about the market with the hospital nearby and Brenau (University) right around the corner," he said.

The historic home, built in 1915, once was the residence of Dr. John Rudolph and his family. Later, the home went to the Rudolph children, John Rudolph, Dixon Rudolph and Georgia Rudolph Wall.

The English Tudor-style home has a granite foundation, porch and side porch and chimneys. The living room has exposed beams, and there are four tile-covered fireplaces.

During the mid-1970s, the home was bought by Warren Smythe, who restored the building and turned it into a restaurant with room for diners upstairs and downstairs. Today, both sides of Green Street, from Green Street Place to Glenwood Road, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Others who have leased the building to run the restaurant include Marsha Wall, Raymond and Melanie Swett and, most recently, Michael Hunt.

"It has so much character from the street and has so much history," said Melanie Swett, who ran Rudolph’s from 1998 to 2002 with husband Raymond. "It has a lot of nostalgia.

"The basement, the wine cellar, was one of the coolest features of it."

Swett said there were struggles in dealing with a building of that age.

"It definitely has its different smells and creaks and obviously wears an older house like that quicker," she said.

In 1985, Jim Walters bought the Rudolph-Dixon house from Smythe and has owned it since. Gainesville’s Tim Fetzer also is a minority partner in the building.

Times reporter Ashley Bates contributed to this report.



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