MOUNT PLEASANT -- For 40 years, Alex's Restaurant has served heaping helpings of home-style cooking along with a side dish of camaraderie at the Coleman Boulevard institution.

But the popular mainstay, which had been on and off the real estate market for the past couple of years, closed on Friday with little fanfare.

A sign on the marquee reads: "Closed. Thanks for 40 great years." Others on the doors on either side of the darkened restaurant read: "Store closed. Thanks to all our loyal customers for 40 great years."

But the longtime restaurant won't stay vacant for long.

Tony Page, co-owner of Page's Okra Grill at 794 Coleman Blvd., bought the Alex's Restaurant site from co-owners Carolyn Billips and Debbie Jackson for a total investment, including refurbishment, of about $1.6 million.

Billips and Jackson could not be reached for comment, but an employee at Alex's in Goose Creek said the other three Alex's in the metro area will remain open.

Page, along with his sister, Linda Page, and his daughters, Courtney and Ashleigh Page, now jointly own the former Alex's Restaurant site.

Page's Okra Grill will move to the new site by mid-June, Tony Page said Monday while sitting inside his new venture amid chairs turned upside down on the tables and at the counter.

"We needed a bigger space," he said.

The former Alex's Restaurant will provide seating for about 200 in 5,800 square feet, about twice the size of the current Okra Grill, which the Page family has been operating through a lease for five years.

Page said the menu for the seven-day-a-week restaurant will remain mostly unchanged, except beer and wine will be offered for dinner.

"We will remain a family restaurant," he said.

Taking over the Okra Grill site will be Kudzu Bakery owners Stacy and Joey Rabon, who operate shops in Georgetown and Litchfield Beach.

They hope to be set up in the new shop, which they plan to lease, by the end of the summer, Stacy Rabon said.

Rabon added that she has been hoping to open a retail bakery in the metro Charleston area since starting the business 22 years ago, and things finally fell into place.

"We are a mom-and-pop kind of place," she said. "If you see it at your family reunion, it fits in at Kudzu. We are high-tech, down-home."

Page said he was happy to bring the deal to fruition.

"We like the fact that we are approximate to Shem Creek," he said. "We are also exponentially more visible. We will get a lot more impulse diners here."

Page added that locals' support for the Okra Grill venture made the new investment possible.

"We hope they will follow us up the road," he said. "We think Coleman Boulevard long-term is going to be a good place to be."

The Okra Grill employs 33 people now. With the move, Page said that number would climb to between 45 and 50.

"We will be adding a few workers to the economy," he said.

Longtime customer William Bailey said it was a tough call for the owners, but he understood that Jackson, the co-owner who worked at the restaurant, wanted to take time to do other things.

"Maybe when they open it back up, things will even be better," the retiree and widower said.

Page called Alex's an institution that he hopes to build on.

"We hope to go for 40 more years," he said.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524.