New era starts for Ajax Diner: One of Mississippi’s (and the South’s) most legendary restaurants changes ownership

Published 5:03 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

One of the South’s most legendary restaurants has been a favorite for locals for almost three decades. It has also caught the taste buds of visitors from around the globe and won awards locally and nationally.

Randy Yates has been at the helm of Ajax Diner in Oxford since the iconic restaurant started serving its classic Southern comfort food with a relaxed atmosphere.

After 27 years, Yates has decided it was time to turn over the reigns of the restaurant named after his grandfather AJ to a new owner and focus on himself and his future while taking a much-deserved break.

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Last week, Oxford’s Clay Scruggs, a Mississippi native and hotel developer with Cap Development Group, became Ajax’s new owner.

“Today starts a new era for the legendary Ajax Diner,” stated a post on Ajax’s Facebook page. “Don’t worry, your favorite Southern comfort foods will be available in abundance.”

Just a few days after announcing the sale, the restaurant was named one of “The South’s Most Legendary Restaurants,” by “Southern Living” magazine.

“I’m very proud of that,” Yates told the Oxford Eagle last week.

Leaving his home-away-from-home after nearly three decades, Yates said he’s still working on writing up a social media post to express his gratitude to his customers and his staff.

“It’s hard to find the words,” he said.

Yates said he isn’t sure yet what the future holds for him, but he plans on taking the next few months to recharge.

“After 27 years at one place, I just wanted to see what my next chapter is going to be. I’ve got a lot of ideas,” he said. “But I’m going to take the summer and decide what I want to do.”

Yates said he’s worked every Saturday for the last 40 years of his life.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what happens on Saturdays,” he said.