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New restaurant opens in Demopolis

DEMOPOLIS &8212; It&8217;s easy to see Annette Gwin is having fun at her new endeavor, Back Yard Grill&Seafood on U.S. Highway 80.

For the 41-year-old mother of four, cooking has always been a passion. As she talks about the food at her new place &8212; very new, the restaurant opened Monday &8212; her eyes sparkle, and she can&8217;t hide her excitement.

The restaurant, which was formerly home to Bartolo&8217;s, now serves a variety of home-style favorites, from steaks and seafood to pecan-crusted chicken, as well as sandwiches and lighter fare for lunch.

When Bartolo&8217;s folded earlier this year, Gwin and her family went to work. They repainted and refurbished, adding muted lighting for atmosphere and brightening the walls to make the dining area feel more cheery.

And she means it. Gwin is quick to make visitors feel comfortable at the restuarant, making light, pleasant conversation and generally being a warm hostess.

But in the kitchen she is all business &8212; quick and lively, she moves easily, aware of not just what she is doing, but also aware of everyone&8217;s business in her domain.

In addition to new paint and a new attitude, Gwin added new booths to the dining area to help maximize the space for patrons.

Gwin earned her reputation as a cook by doing casseroles and desserts from home. As word-of-mouth spread, Gwin found herself sometimes staying up until 2 a.m. to fix the meals or desserts.

Patrons can still order those casseroles and desserts through the restaurant at 334-289-6979.

And Gwin still plans to keep her day job as a teacher with Demopolis City Schools. She knows that she&8217;ll have to relinquish some control when the academic year starts.

So far, so good.