Church Taking The Abbey Back to Its Roots

Plans in the works to return the Frisco restaurant to its roots

A year-old congregation in Frisco is in the process of buying The Abbey Grille on West Main Street and returning it to its original use.

"What we wanna do now is reclaim this facility and bring it back to its highest and best use -- a church," said Dono Pelham, the pastor of Life Changing Faith Christian Fellowship.

The Abbey Grille closed its doors in December 2008 after 25 years of home-cooked goodness.  Morteza Darzi who took over the restaurant and the building in 1992 told NBCDFW it was time for a change.

"We don't want it to be a restaurant, " said Darzi. "We want it go to back to its history."

That history reaches back to 1902.  What eventually became The Abbey Grille was originally a church, the first non-residential building in Frisco.  It was a place of worship until 1974.  It became a restaurant with adjoining office space 10 years later. 

"Founders of our community worshipped here, struggled here, communicated here, made friends here and built what we know today as Frisco," recalled Pelham.

"We've gotten feedback from folks who say, 'I'd come into The Abbey to eat, look up at the salad bar and remember, that's where I was baptized,'" said Angelia Pelham.

The growing church Pelham's husband pastors meets in the Frisco Convention Center, but the opportunity to make The Abbey the congregation's permanent home was an answered prayer.

"This third wing, which is in the back of the building, is really want we see as the children's wing," explained Angelia Pelham. "So the goal is to have outreach to children. That's the heart of our pastor."

Their respect for history and their vision for the future inspired Darzi to finance the deal himself.

"This was not the first choice, not the only choice. We felt it was the best choice," he told NBCDFW.

The purchase price is $1.4 million.  Life Changing Faith must come up with $150,000 by the end of August to secure the deal, then raise another $300,000 for renovations.  A capital campaign called Faith in Action is now under way.

Pastor Pelham is so sure the community will come together like it did 107 years ago, he's plans on holding the first service in The Abbey on Christmas Day.

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