Forsyth’s most upscale restaurant for the past 22 years will soon have its first new owner in its history. Macon restauranteur Richie Jones has a contract to buy Grits Cafe from founder Wayne Wetendorf in mid-April.

Jones already owns some of Macon’s finest restaurants. He’s the sole owner of The Downtown Grill and a co-owner of Piedmont Brewery Kitchen and Circa. He’ll now add what has long been Forsyth’s marquee restaurant, Grits Cafe, to his portfolio.

“We’re excited about being part of the community,” Jones told the Reporter. Jones said he would say more about his plans after the deal closes in April. Word of the pending purchase came from a Forsyth city council meeting on Monday where council was alerted that Jones and Grits had applied for an alcohol license as a new owner. The vote will come April 5.

Wayne and Teri Wetendorf opened Grits on the courthouse square in the former home of The Left Banque in 1999. A Canadian by birth, Wetendorf had never even tried grits until he moved to Dallas, Texas early in his career and learned to cook with southwestern flair. He brought those abilities to Grits and made it a hit, attracting not just Monroe Countians but travelers driving I-75 to and from their homes in Florida from the snowy Northeast and Midwest. A devastating fire in 2012 destroyed much of the restaurant, but they rebuilt it and reopened in February 2013. The restaurant has continued to attract big crowds, but COVID has been tough on the eatery. Grits has closed for weeks at a time due to COVID issues and also personnel problems. Many local restaurants have suffered staffing shortages in recent months.