A Neosho icon has changed hands and will re-open soon.

A Neosho icon has changed hands and will re-open soon.

Charley’s Grill, 225 S. Wood St. downtown Neosho, was sold on Monday to Bruce “BJ” Hudelson. Previous owner Kathy Moore had it since January 2004. The grill opened in the early 1980s.

“I have been in the restaurant business now for 18 years, something like that, since I was a teenager,” said Hudelson. “This will be my first [time] actually owning a business.”

Hudelson was born and raised in Neosho, graduating from Neosho High School in 1995. He has been in Joplin for about the last nine years.

“I was in the beverage industry for a number of years, about 14 years,” he said. “I was a bar manager over at Kitchen Pass in Neosho for about three years before it closed down.”

He was also the general manager for Crabby’s in Joplin as well.

Explaining why he decided to purchase Charley’s, Hudelson said, “on that side of the coin, working evenings, I have a new baby, he just turned a year old, and I wanted to spend more evening time with the wife and new baby.”

One question heard around town is, “will the new owner keep the name?”

“Yes. Basically, everything I want to keep the same,” he said. “No major changes whatsoever. This place has been an institution now for 30-plus years, so why mess with a good thing?”

One change he noted deals with the grill being a smoking or non-smoking atmosphere.

“Well, I want to go non-smoking, that is one of the only changes that I would like to make,” he said. “I think that it is a way of the future, Missouri is going non-smoking. …What the deciding factor is, I have a small child, it is hard to bring a small child into a smoking environment.”

The paperwork was signed on Monday and in the meantime, Hudelson is working on the interior of the business.

Inside the building, there are two walls with interior glass shelves.

“I do want to do some decorating, I have talked to a local pottery gallery out of Joplin,” he said. “I would like to get some of my grandmother’s antique dishes in here, some implements to put up in cases, maybe some historical photographs. I have been in contact with the Neosho-Newton County Library, trying to get some historical photographs of the downtown area.”

Hudelson noted that tentatively he would like to open the later part of this week.

“I would like to be – in some capacity – be open Saturday [during the fall festival],” he added. “I would like to be open for lunch, something like that.”

Prior to signing the papers Monday morning, Moore had the opportunity to have coffee and doughnuts with some of her customers.

“Some of my fondest memories, I guess that it would be my early morning guys, that is my best time of the day,” she said. “It has all been pretty fond. All of it has been pretty good. We have had a pretty good time down here. And it will continue.”

Moore has been in the restaurant business all of her life, helping out her family at the Old Corral which was located on North College Street.

Moore is pleased that Hudelson will keep the same hours — 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday — and menu items.

“I am very pleased with that,” she said. “He seems very friendly, and I think that he is going to get along with the customers. That is important, the most important.”

Customers of Charley’s are known for talking about politics or current events around the grill, but also, grabbing the coffee pot and pouring coffee for customers as Moore or her other employees cooked breakfast or lunch.

The grill will always have a special place in Moore’s life.

“This is my home, my home away from home,” she said. “To the customers, thanks for coming in. I want to thank all of my customers for being good customers.”