“He was a very loving, caring [person],” said Rick Ross, Hal Ross’ younger brother. “If you look on Facebook, a lot of people posted how he was a sweet man. [He] really loved his family, really loved the restaurant too. [Ross’ Diner] was everything [to him]. Sometimes he’d be down here seven days a week even though they’re only open six. He’d come down here on Sundays and he’d [clean or work on] things that might need to be done for the following week.
“... He would mainly stay in the back, but when he did come out and walk around, he’d especially like to [talk to] a lot of the regulars and then sometimes [if] he saw somebody that he didn’t know, he might come up and speak to them. ... He loved his customers. He loved doing what he did. He made friends with everybody. People would come in hungry and he would feed them. It didn’t matter. I [saw] him do that many times because that’s what our dad instilled in us as far as the restaurant goes — if people come in hungry, you feed them. ... [So] if somebody came in and said that he was hungry, he didn’t hesitate. He’d feed them. That was his heart. He was a very caring person.”
Located at 17 Wall St. in Cartersville since the business opened in 1945, Ross’ Diner was owned and operated by Ross since 1988.
“A lot of people who have grown up here can certainly remember going there as a young child,” said Tara Currier, manager of the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority. “Of course, there’s been a lot of fun back in forth between Ross’ and 4 Way [as far as] who has the best breakfast or best burgers, but Ross’ has obviously stood the test of time surviving as long as it has in the downtown area.
“Still, when I come in in the mornings [I] can see the same people coming in and out of there, and I know they get a lot of the same lunch crowd too. So it’s been a great thing to watch since I’ve been here and [I am] just glad to have such a great community place in our downtown business district.”
For Joan Burns, who worked for Ross for about 20 years as a server, it was evident how much her employer enjoyed interacting with his customers.
“You’d really like Hal. He was very nice,” Burns said. “[I] always got along with him really well. He was fair when it came to work — do your job and everything was fine. He really loved this business that his dad helped start. He was a good man to work for, he really was. Hal was a good man. This was sort of his life, after he took it over. ... It had a lot of family meaning as well, I think.
“... [He did] a little of everything. He cooked. He made all the chilies and the gravies. Back then, he was the one with the recipes that had been here for years and years,” she said, adding, due to his illness, Ross did not oversee the diner’s day-to-day operations the last year of his life. “... He’d open in the morning. He’d cook ... and he’d come out and talk to the customers. There ain’t many people in this town that don’t know Hal.”
Funeral services for Ross will be conducted at 2 p.m. today at the Cartersville Church of Christ, with interment following in the Oak Hill Cemetery. Owen Funeral Home in Cartersville is in charge of the arrangements.