TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — There are a lot of iconic places on the University of Alabama campus–chief among them, at least in terms of game day food, is Rama Jama’s restaurant.
But could this be the last Iron Bowl under the current, original owners? They’re looking to sell, but not just to anyone. The idea is to sell it to someone who will keep it a restaurant and keep the tradition alive.
It opened 20 years ago in September, when Alabama was facing off against Vanderbilt. Back then, it was an old, dilapidated rundown abandoned convenience store with a “For Rent” sign out front.
The location was ideal–right across the street from Bryant-Denny Stadium. Owner Gary Lewis says he decided the location was deserving of a restaurant serving stadium style food–and the rest is–literally–history.
“I didn’t have any restaurant experience. Don’t have a college education, but I do have a good work ethic, and I credit that for what little success I’ve had here,” Lewis explained.
That work ethic led to Lewis putting effort into making Rama Jama’s highly unique.
“I try to get things that are unique or one of a kind. I mean..I’ve got ketchup bottles with national championship logos on them that nobody has. Nico Johnson gave me his shoulder pads which won three national championships. Now that’s cool.”
Cool indeed. The Tuscaloosa staple takes on another life on gameday.
“Gameday this thing takes…it’s another…it’s an animal. It takes a whole new look to what it is. We go from what we are on a daily basis to what we have to be on gameday. We set up buffets outside with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles. We send them out naked. Just meat and bread and it’s as fast as we can go at that pace,” Lewis said.
That fast pace for the past 20 years has Lewis looking for a buyer to keep it up while he slows down.
“It’s been about a year. I put it up for sale at the end of last football season with the thought that, I hired an agent, let’s just see what happens,” Lewis reflected. “If I could find the right group or the right person that wanted to keep it Rama Jama’s with serious intentions, then I would sit down and discuss it with them, but so far, that hasn’t happened. It’ll be a little sentimental if the Auburn game, which I think is a good way, if it does end with the Auburn game. I can’t imagine any other way that I would like to go out than beating Auburn as my final home game. We’ll just have to wait and see when that time comes.”