By Karen Murphy
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THOMASVILLE - Shiver me timbers! The Plaza, Thomasville’s iconic restaurant, beat out Savannah’s Pirate House for the oldest continuous restaurant in Georgia.
The Pirate House, established around 1734, is the first inn and tavern in the state, but it became a museum at one point and only recently became a restaurant again. According to Yahoo Food and Yvonne Morgan with the Georgia Restaurant Association, that makes The Plaza the “oldest continuously running restaurant in Georgia.”
The Plaza was originally established in 1916 by “a Davis man” at 115 N. Broad St. in the building that currently houses the Thomasville Onstage & Company’s Storefront Theater. It could seat only 26 patrons at its white marble tables.
From 1919-1921 George Lacthous, Andrew Zalumas and John Papas owned The Plaza. In the early 20s, John Papas brought on a new partner, now known only as the “red-haired Greek.”
The Plaza changed hands again. From 1926-1928, it was owned by Charlie Venos and his partner, Chris Blane. In 1942, Blane hired 26-year-old Greek immigrant Louie Mathes part-time. Mathes was serving in the U.S. Army and stationed at Thomasville Air Base. After the war, he returned to Thomasville and he and his brother Tom bought the restaurant from Blane.
The Mathes' era marked much growth and many different expansions. In 1946, they remodeled the restaurant to hold 60 patrons. Two years later, it was remodeled again. The brothers added a private dining room to accommodate 85 patrons.
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