Old 97 Tavern & Arcade to open in Danville, themed around historic train wreck

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 4:56 PM EDT
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - A new restaurant is opening in downtown Danville with a connection to the city’s rich history.

The former arcade at 315 Lynn Street will soon be alive again under a new name and management.

Danville local Phillip Decker chose to name the new restaurant after one of the city’s historic events.

“I was trying to find something that connected to the rich history of Danville,” said Phillip Decker, owner of Old 97 Tavern and Arcade. “The wreck of the Old 97 was a mail train that wrecked September 27, 1903... is a big part of the history. It was a big wreck back then.”

The wreck of the Old 97 occurred when a speeding train ran off the rails and into Still House Creek, killing 11 passengers.

“Unfortunately, there were several people that lost their lives. But, it also helped put Danville on the map, especially when it became a song was recorded by multiple different country music artists with the biggest one probably being Johnny Cash,” added Decker.

Decker plans to work with the Danville Historical Society to add some authentic photographs and articles to the restaurant. Along with the historic theme, Old 97 Tavern and Arcade will have American cuisine from burgers to sandwiches.

“It’s going to be a family-friendly atmosphere. People can come and enjoy a good meal that’s a little bit unique but not veering too far off the typical path of what Danville is looking for,” explained Decker.

Decker wants to help keep his hometown on track with its revitalization efforts.

“With Danville growing and the downtown River District becoming a more popular area, when I had an opportunity to purchase this restaurant, it was one that I simply couldn’t pass up. So, I’m looking forward to the growth and the development of the River District area and hope to be a part of that as Danville moves forward.”

Decker hopes to have a grand opening on September 27 - the 120th anniversary of the wreck of the Old 97.