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R.C. Webb remembered for iconic Nic Nac restaurant

Friends, patrons remember business owner

R.C. Webb remembered for iconic Nic Nac restaurant

R.C. Webb remembered for iconic Nic Nac restaurant

R.C. Webb is shown in his Nic Nac Gri...


This week as friends think back on the life of R.C. Webb, many are calling up memories of the Nic Nac Grill.
Webb, who died Saturday evening at age 90, is survived by his wife, Ella Ree Webb. He outlived by more than two decades the restaurant they owned and operated for 46 years, from 1946 through most of 1992. But Webb’s Nic Nac Grill and Restaurant on East Main Street was once Statesboro’s largest restaurant and became an instrument of Webb’s quiet, lasting influence.
“Mr. Webb was a very quiet person, but he supported high school sports, he supported his family, he supported the local recreation department,” Frank Hook said. “Our recreation department and high school sports are better today because of the support of people like R.C. Webb.”
Hook, 65, is now donor relations director for the Georgia Southern University Athletic Department, after retiring as the university’s alumni director. He also did a turn in the 1970s as director of what was then the Statesboro Recreation Department.
As a boy in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Hook competed in the department’s sports programs. When parents were called on to drive youngsters to another town for a game, R.C. Webb was always there, Hook said. He grew up with the Webbs’ six children, and calls them all friends.
“When I see them, even out in the community today, I come up to them and I say, would I just love to go back to that Nic Nac Grill and sit down with your daddy and enjoy that fried chicken or a hamburger steak or that Webb’s special or veal cutlets,” Hook said.
He places the Nic Nac Grill in a category of vanished but fondly remembered restaurants that also includes Franklin’s, Mrs. Bryant’s Kitchen and the Paragon. Each of these locally owned eateries had a loyal following before Statesboro grew and attracted more franchises and chains.
Statesboro City Manager Frank Parker named an almost identical list of former restaurants.
“They were not just places to go to eat, but they were places to visit your friends and socialize,” Parker said.
Besides the Nic Nac’s fresh shrimp and warm cinnamon rolls, Parker recalled the family atmosphere, and that all of the Webbs’ children once worked there. Indeed, some of their grandchildren did, too.
“We knew the whole family and appreciated what they did for Statesboro, because they have served this community for many, many years,” Parker said.
The Nic Nac Grill, by the way, was in the building that’s now the Spirit and Truth Worship Center.
They started small
Married Oct. 22, 1945, Raiford Charlie Webb and Ella Ree Mimbs Webb moved to Statesboro in 1946 and purchased what was then a 26-seat restaurant. They expanded it in 1964 and again in 1968, maxing out at 500 seats with the addition of large banquet rooms in back.
Born in Treutlen County, where he earned a varsity letter playing football for Soperton High School, Raiford Charlie Webb served first in the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1939, then in the U.S. Army during World War II. A combat engineer, he fought in the New Guinea and New Britain amphibious landings.
On the living they made in the restaurant business, the Webbs raised their children: Charles Webb, Stacy Webb, Gwen Gerrald, Jack Webb, Paul Webb and Sherri Cribbs. All graduated from Statesboro High School and earned degrees from Georgia Southern College (now University). Most obtained advanced degrees, and several have retired from or are continuing careers as educators.
The links between R.C. Webb, the Nic Nac Grill and sports are numerous. The restaurant hosted the Statesboro Quarterback Club for many years, and the club presented Webb its first Honorary Lifetime Membership in 1997. The Nic Nac also served pregame meals to a generation or more of Statesboro High football players. Webb sponsored a Nic Nac Grill adult softball team in a recreational league.
In the days when fast food places and chain restaurants were few, Georgia Southern supplied the Nic Nac with many of its customers. The college also provided some of the work force.
After two years studying and playing baseball at South Georgia College, Rod Greenway of North Augusta, S.C., came to Georgia Southern, where he played baseball one of his two years, graduating in 1969. He and his wife, Lynda, married the beginning of their junior year and both worked at the Nic Nac, waiting tables.
After the weekly paychecks were distributed, Webb sometimes quietly slipped the Greenways cash to supplement their tips. He also lent them their first dining table and chairs.
“Mr. and Mrs. Webb went out on a limb to help us right after we got married and gave us a job, and we just never forgot that,” said Rod Greenway, who called the Nic Nac “a special, special place.”
Greenway, 68, is now retired from a career as an educator after beginning as a physical education teacher and concluding as a principal.
John Lee, 54, now a partner in Lee, Hill and Johnston Insurors, grew up across the block from the Nic Nac Grill and ate many meals there. He and Paul Webb were classmates in the Statesboro schools and then roommates at Georgia Southern.
“Mr. R.C. and Mrs. Webb were just very, very sweet people and very hard workers,” Lee said. “They kind of treated me like one of their own when I was around. He loved sports and he loved giving back to the community and was a great father to all his kids and a great father figure to all their friends, including me.”
Around 1969, R.C. Webb, Snooky Yawn and another partner started another restaurant, Webb’s Georgia Fried Chicken. The late Snooky Yawn’s son, Bruce Yawn, who played football at Statesboro High with Webb’s sons Charles and Stacy, bought Webb’s interest in that business, and from it Yawn and his father launched Snooky’s Restaurant in 1972.
Snooky’s closed two years ago Tuesday.
“I don’t think R.C. ever refused anybody that needed help in any way,” Yawn said. “He kind of set the standard for the way you’re supposed to run a hometown restaurant, and I followed a lot of his ways for how I ran mine, and so I owe a large debt of gratitude.… He was a special person. We never were competition. We were always friends who happened to be in the same business.”
Webb’s funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. today in the chapel of Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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