This is Free Form Friday, the occasional virtual coffee clatch/tailgate via which we attempt to pass the time before fall practice begins. It’s a languid summer tradition, in which we discuss news, music, food, and occasionally football. Maestro, the music:
Athens, Georgia is clearly a very special place to those of us who read and write this website. Otherwise, well, why would you be here? There are a lot of things that make the Classic City special. One is the food. The smells, sounds and tastes of Athens’ classic dining establishments conjure memories of good times with family, classmates, and in some cases classmates who became family. It’s tough to run a small business, especially a restaurant. Anyone who’s ever worked in the restaurant business knows that 90% of them are on the verge of going belly up 90% of the time, and that the average restaurant stays open less than 3 years.
That’s one reason I always find it extremely satisfying to see a place that bucks the odds and stays around for decades. When that happens it’s no accident. You only do so by working hard, staying the course, and providing a good product at a fair price day in and day out.
That’s why I was pretty dismayed to learn this week that one of my all-time favorite Athens eateries appears on the way to shutting its doors.
To paraphrase Mel Brooks, comedy is when you fall down an open sewer and die, tragedy is when this happens. https://t.co/xF8wZVtfdh— Dawg Sports (@dawgsports) June 17, 2023
The venerable Mayflower has been a fixture on Broad Street since 1948, but will be closing some time in the near future. It’s Athens oldest restaurant, so long-established that some historical context drives the point home. The Mayflower has occupied the same spot in downtown since the first half of Wally Butts’ tenure as head coach. Vince Dooley was a 16 year old high school quarterback in Mobile, Alabama. Harry S. Truman was in his first term in the White House. King Charles would be born a few weeks later.
The no-frills breakfast menu at the Mayflower was my go-to for years when attending legal seminars at the Center for Continuing Education. Heck, I might have chosen to attend a couple precisely for the chance to order a stack of hot cakes with sausage and/or country ham depending on my mood.
It’s not the last time a beloved local establishment will close only to be replaced by a Panera or a Kale n’ Stuff. But it’s the latest, and it hurts me deeply. I’ll miss you, Mayflower.
Sadly, the demise of my favorite Athens breakfast spot isn’t the first time the cold hands of change have ripped a meal away from me. Or you, I’d wager. Which brings me to this week’s question: what departed Athens restaurant do you still miss?
Do you find yourself craving a Gyro Wrap while staring across Broad toward the Arch? Do you still dream of a steak and cheese sub from Steverino’s? Would you give your right arm to go through the buffet line at Pinecrest Lodge just once more? Maybe you fondly remember 25 cent beer at Allen’s (I still crave a burger off that flat top that still had grease on it Zell Miller forgot to scrape off in 1956). Tell us which Athens spot you pine for like a Florida fan reminiscing over your bygone days of football relevance. And…