Tuscaloosa’s iconic Cypress Inn Restaurant structure on the north bank of the Black Warrior River may be making a comeback.

Drew Henson opened the rustic restaurant to great fanfare in 1984. It fed signature Louisiana type cuisine to the famous, UA students and locals for more than three decades. It was closed by new owners in 2019 with a plan to remodel for a new concept. But the structure on Rice Mine Road still sits idle.

During Tuesday’s Tuscaloosa City Council Meeting Tuscaloosan Jeff Harless appeared in support a request for a Restaurant Retail Liquor License for Black Warrior Events in Tuscaloosa at 501-601 Rice Mine Road. That is the location of the Pavilion and the restaurant building. When asked if the request was for one event, Harless surprised everyone with his answer. “No sir, we acquired the property a month or so ago and plan to continue to operate the Pavilion and find an operator to come in and take over the restaurant.”

Cypress Inn Restaurant
Cypress Inn Restaurant

Councilman Kip Tyner wanted to make sure he heard correctly, “So you plan to reopen the Cypress Inn or some type of restaurant?” To which Harless replied in the affirmative, “As soon as we find the right person.”

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With a broad smiles across the council chamber, Tyner told Harless, “I think you have made a whole lot of people very, very happy.”

The new owners are bringing the property back up to, ‘its former glory,” according to Harless, as they seek the right operator.

Cathy and Bill Lunsford and Ron Price purchased the restaurant and its 6.5 acres of property, including The Pavilion, in August 2018 from Drew Henson’s ex-wife Renea. The Lunsfords and Price operated Cypress Inn before shutting it down with plans to remodel and announce a new concept. Those plans never came to fruition.

The future of the Cypress Inn building has been the center of much speculation over the years. Whether it is a reconstituted Cypress Inn or a new concept,  it looks like life is being breathed back into one of Alabama’s, not just Tuscaloosa’s, most popular restaurant sites overlooking the waters of the Black Warrior River.

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