The Windmill Restaurant offers something for everyone; whether it be a relaxing place for a couple to unwind for an evening meal; a quick lunch during the work week from either our menu or small buffet; a family style meal from our Sunday buffet; or a place to simply grab take-out for a more relaxing evening at home.
We will obtain the freshest seasonal foods from local farmers when possible, helping our community's economy to grow and prosper along with our own herb garden from which fresh herbs will be utilized in our culinary dishes. We also provide fresh homemade baked breads daily that will be utilized for all our sandwiches and served with all our meals.
The restaurant will exceed and maintain the highest of health standards for the industry both in the indoor and outdoor kitchen areas keeping in mind the safety and wellbeing of customers.
It is set in an old family home built in the early 1900’s by James Tillman Warnock for his bride, Dora Braddy Warnock. The couple’s eight children were born and raised in the home, Walton, Tillman, Carlton, Dewitt, Jmon, Mildred, Florence and Mabrey. In the 1960’s, daughter Mildred and her husband Chester Hilton moved in to care for her aging parents. The property is currently owned by sisters, Jill Warnock and Jan Warnock Moore, granddaughters of JT and Dora and daughters of Jmon and Fanibel Warnock.
On the premises, is an old cotton warehouse which was utilized for several decades as a place for surrounding farmers to bring the cotton for sale.
The name “Windmill Restaurant” was chosen in a tribute to a Tarrytown landmark since the 1930’s, the original Aeromotor windmill which still spins through the winds of Tarrytown. While it is no longer utilized to pump water, it is a symbol that reminds us all of the yesterdays and traditions that are so missed by all who still treasure those by gone days when life was simple.
The Windmill Restaurant strives to carry on the Warnock family traditions of hospitality and dining with style and grace to all who chose to cross our threshold.
Two Sisters, A Windmill, And A Restaurant
There’s not a lot to see in downtown Tarrytown. It’s one of those places where if you blink, you might miss it. There’s not even a traffic light. But a sage green house and a whirling windmill are catching the eyes of passersby as they zoom by on the main drag. People are taking notice. Some are stopping. Some might even say that the house has made Tarrytown — with its booming population of 87 residents — a destination again. Two Tarrytown sisters — Jill Warnock and Jan Warnock Moore — lovingly restored and converted the old arts and crafts style house into a dining establishment and named it the Windmill Restaurant. Since opening around
Thanksgiving of last year, the sisters have welcomed thousands of hungry guests, treating each and every one as if they were a family member sitting down for a meal at the family’s kitchen table. At the Windmill Restaurant, the food is front and center, but heaping helpings of Southern hospitality and charm are also on the menu.
THE HERITAGE “It was built in 1902 by our grandfather, James Tillman [JT] Warnock for our grandmother, Dora Braddy Warnock,” says Jill Warnock. “We keep them close — their
picture is up at the cash register. They raised eight children in this house, including our father, Jmon Warnock.” JT Warnock married Dora Braddy in Montgomery County in 1902. The 1930 US Census lists James Tillman Warnock as the head of the household with wife Dora and children: Walton (22), Mildred (20), Florence (19), Carlton (16), Mabrey (15), Tillman (12), Dewitt (10), and Jmon (4). Blanch Lanier, Dora Partridge, and Regina Yomans were also living in the Warnock family home when the census worker stopped by. The value of the home was estimated to be $3,000 — a small fortune back then.
JT Warnock was a Baptist, a Democrat, a Mason, a member of the Tarrytown School Board of Trustees, Tarrytown City Councilman, owner of a cotton gin, and President of the Bank of Tarrytown (1912 - 1922). The sisters’ father, Jmon Warnock, married the love of his life, Fanibel Mixon, in the forties. Outside of family life, Jmon ran the iconic Warnock’s Store, and Fanibel was the postmaster of Tarrytown and a rural mail carrier. The couple had two daughters — Jill and Jan. “My sister and I grew up in the house just across the street,” says Jill. “After graduation, we moved to Augusta.” They both graduated from Augusta College and went on to law school. They both became federal agents and had successful careers with the US Postal Service. “But when our father died in 2007, that changed things,” she says. “We retired in 2008 and moved home to help our mother. We took care of Mom and Aunt Florence [Overstreet] until they passed away.” The community had changed a bit, and the sisters had to find their place again. Among other things, they began renovating properties (with the help of contractor Greg Lawrence) and jumped into the Airbnb business last year. Through this unique approach to lodging, travelers are able to book a house, a room, or an apartment to stay for a night or an extended amount of time, instead of a hotel room. “The property stays booked,” she said. “People from all over come to Tarrytown and spend a night or two or more. It’s been something we’ve enjoyed.”
But Jill’s sister had another business idea. She had always dreamed of opening a restaurant. “Once Jill and I decided to take the plunge into the restaurant business, I started reading everything I could about how to build a successful restaurant,” Jan says. “I read a lot of positive information, but I also read about the pitfalls that failed businesses encountered and how to avoid those pitfalls.” The two women knew someone who could help them — Jan’s sister-in-law, Linda Moore,
a Virginia native with a rich 15-year career in the restaurant industry. “She’s another sister to us,” Jan says. “She knows the food services business like the back of her hand. She’s owned a barbecue business and operated a catering business. She knows what it takes to be successful, and we’ve taken her lead.” Linda and her husband moved to Tarrytown from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley last October, and the three women began working together to open the Windmill Restaurant. For them, the business venture is bigger than establishing a talk-of-the-town restaurant. They are committed to rebuilding Tarrytown — to regaining some of the glory of its heydays.
THE HOUSE The house was always big and beautiful — one of the focal points of Tarrytown. It was the perfect setting for the restaurant. But the house didn’t belong to the Warnock sisters. “We bid on the house at auction in 2017, and we got it,” Jill says. “And we had purchased the windmill at the estate sale. It was important to all of us that the windmill stay with the house, and it has.” The Aeromotor windmill has been a Tarrytown landmark since the 1930s. While it is no longer utilized to pump water, it is an iconic symbol that reminds locals of yesteryear. It now lends its name to the restaurant. “We knew the house would be the perfect place for the restaurant,” Jan says. “And we knew who could transform the house into a restaurant for us.” Greg Lawrence had already been working for the sisters for several years when the topic of converting the house into a restaurant came up. “The project took two years, and that was working six days each week,” Greg remarks. “There was a lot to it.” The layout is pretty close to the original house plan. “It needed all new HVAC, electrical, and plumbing,” he continues. “We had to redo the entire sunroom and replace the porch. And we redid the wood floors.” The floors are fabulous — golden pine planks with a thick, clear lacquer protecting their beauty. Big beefy baseboards accent each of the interior rooms. Each room presents a different, private dining atmosphere with six fireplaces remaining in the structure. In the center dining area, walls the color of butter set the stage for a beautiful crystal chandelier that dangles from the ceiling. Just inside the front door, the room to the right showcases an old Coca-Cola sign that is another part of Tarrytown’s history. “It was on the outside brick wall of the old post office,” Jill says. “We took it down, and that broke a lot of hearts around here. We
stored it. And one day when we were here working, Greg said, ‘I know where that Coke sign is going.’” And there were other reminders of the past. Greg’s crew uncovered something interesting one day while working. “There were liquor bottles hidden in the walls,” he says. “We saved them, because they are part of the history. They are on display in the bar area now.” Greg and crew also built two new bathrooms and an office for the restaurant. “Thompson Lumber Company milled the wood for the bathrooms,” he adds. “And we had to do some work on the outside of the structure, too, which meant planning the wood to match the plank siding.”
Jill compliments Greg’s vision and craftsmanship. “Greg is the one who suggested that we incorporate some of the mechanical pieces from the old cotton gin into the interior design,” she says. “I just couldn’t visualize it, but I said, ‘okay.’ I love how he used the pieces.” “The base of the front counter [where you pay] is made from the cotton gin’s deseeder,” Greg says. “It dates back to just after the Civil War and has become quite a conversation piece.” A bale of cotton hangs suspended in the reception area of the restaurant. “There are so many historical pieces here,” Jill says. She points to an old clock on the wall.
“See that clock? That hung on the wall at my father’s store,” she says. In the bar area, Jill points to the old threshold from the Bank of Tarrytown. “The table is from the bank, as well,” says Jill. “And that’s an authentic deposit slip from the bank. I guess I’m somewhat of a collector, especially when it comes to family heirlooms and things with connections to Tarrytown’s past.” There’s so much to see and consider on the walls and shelves of the restaurant — all harkening back to a time long ago. With rocking chairs and plants embellishing the space, the covered porch on the front of the house is lovely and inviting. As for the color, everyone involved voted to paint the house sage green. They trimmed it in a creamy ivory color. “I’ve heard that the Lowe’s [ H o m e
Improvement Store] in Vidalia is selling gallons and gallons of that same green paint now,” Greg laughs. “We made it a best seller for them, I guess.” The property is a masterpiece as it is, but Jill and Greg say that they still have items on their wish list. “In the future, we hope to build a deck on the side,” she says. “It would enable people to eat outside when the weather is nice, and if they want to bring their dogs, they’ll be able to.”
THE FOOD Jill, Jan, and Linda worked together to develop a menu full of interesting, delicious dishes that are as pleasing to look at as they are to eat. Lunch offerings include soup, salads, and an array of tasty sandwiches served on the Windmill’s fresh, homemade bread or rolls. Sandwiches are served with large servings of French fries or the vegetable of the day. They built their menu upon the familiar. Sweet pineapple and fresh grapes take a traditional chicken salad recipe to an extraordinary level. Their pimento cheese sandwich is served open-faced with fresh, grilled, thinly-sliced jalapeños. The Tarrytown Club sandwich layers black forest ham, bacon, turkey, Swiss cheese, mayo, lettuce, and tomato on toasted bread — a filling choice that is guaranteed to please the palate of the pickiest eaters. A sandwich with fries and a glass of sweet tea runs about $10. Dinnertime is a real treat at the Windmill with pricing ranging from about $14 to $26 for entrees — all served with their famous, piping hot homemade rolls made with Hooks Pure Cane Syrup. “We have some of the best steaks around — angus ribeye's and filet mignons,” Jan says. “They are cooked just the way our customers like them — on a charcoal grill.”
The chargrilled Peruvian Chicken is also a customer favorite. “It’s basically a chicken breast marinated in olive oil and a special blend of herbs and spices that is grilled and served with a creamy Peruvian sauce, potatoes, a salad, and a side,” says Jan. On Friday evenings, the Barramundi — a delicate, flavorful Australian sea bass fillet, pan-seared and served with a light dill cream sauce — is a crowd favorite. Shrimp and grits
are the hit of Saturday nights. “We’ve even gotten so much positive feedback about our salads,” Jan says. “They aren’t the ordinary lettuce, tomato, and dressing salads. Our salads are a beautiful collection of mixed greens topped with fresh strawberries, mango, grape, blue cheese
crumbles and candied pecans. We serve them with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing that is simply to die for.” The cheese sticks are unique, as well. They hand cut Pepper Jack cheese, bread the sticks, fry them, and serve them with a tangy raspberry sauce. Mmm, mmm, good!
“I’ll tell you this — the vanilla wafers we use to make the banana pudding are homemade,” says Jill. And the pound cake is as perfect as one can imagine. Each slice is magnificently moist, delicate, and so buttery that it seems to melt
in your mouth. A cup of coffee is the perfect complement to this old fashioned standard. The fruit cobblers will remind you of your youth, as well. The ladies at the Windmill don’t believe in shortcuts. They start with fresh, juicy peaches or blueberries and add only the highest quality ingredients. Served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the cobblers are simply heavenly. “It’s important to us to use fresh foods when possible, and make the selections from scratch each day,” Jan says. “We purchase the seasonal foods from local farmers when we can, helping our community's economy to grow and prosper. We grow our own herbs and use them in our culinary dishes, too. That’s another thing that sets us apart from other restaurants.” “Serving food with true Southern hospitality is our goal,” Jan continues “Our entire staff is eager to provide our guests with wonderful experiences.” She says her favorite part of running a restaurant is meeting the wonderful people that have chosen to cross their threshold, and she finds seeing customers leave happy is very rewarding. “We have gotten such positive response from our guests — people thanking us for taking on this adventure, saying that they would have never imagined such a place in Tarrytown, people saying this was so needed in our community,” Jan says. “Some say they will travel again from out of state just to eat here. Sometimes, I can’t believe it.”
Once a family home, the Windmill Restaurant offers something for everyone — a relaxing place for a couple to unwind and enjoy an evening meal together; a quick lunch with a coworker during the work week; a family style meal from the Sunday buffet; or a place to simply swing by and grab a takeout meal. The Windmill Restaurant also hosts both large and small private events and offers catering services and you can call them at (912) 529-4376. The Windmill Restaurant is located at 375 Main Street in Tarrytown, you can't miss it its right there on Hwy 15 in the middle of town. They are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, open Monday, Thursday - Saturday: 11 am - 2 pm and 5 pm - 9 pm and Sunday: 11 am - 3 pm.
Two sisters committed to preserving their ancestral home place are carrying on their family’s traditions and reviving Southern hospitality, and in doing so, they’ve breathed new life into a little place called Tarrytown.
COMMUNITY LIVING MAGAZINE · VOLUME 30