August 9, 2017

What You Missed in Summer Restaurant News

Grub Notes

Photo Credit: Austin Steele

New Red Bowl Bistro

Your humble food columnist spent a lot of this summer investigating various ice cream and popsicle options in an effort to cool down. As far as major closings, there weren’t a lot, although the months without most UGA students around are rough ones for the restaurant and bar industry. Fifth Avenue Pizza, in Watkinsville, shut its doors, and the side location of Ike & Jane in the Georgia Museum of Art closed, to be replaced Sept. 1 by a new cafe run by the UGA Hotel and Conference Center, with coffee, snacks, sandwiches and such. Cozy Yum Yum closed its space on East Clayton and moved back into its old location on Jackson Street. Metro Diner, the chain out of Jacksonville, appears not to be taking over the old East-West space on Broad downtown after all, which means that’s a lot of empty prime real estate. And Daily Groceries Co-op is no longer moving into the 100 Prince development that should start work soon.

Suncatcher Cafe and Pour Restaurant & Bar both opened in Watkinsville shortly before the end of the academic year. The latter promptly ticked off a large percentage of its potential customers through some ill-advised Facebook posts about its strict dress code and prohibition of children, leading to a big old internet kerfuffle, then deleted its Facebook page but is still in business. The former, a little breakfast place next to a gas station in downtown Watkinsville, did its best not to annoy its client base and seems to be thriving in the a.m. hours.

New Red Bowl Bistro opened on the Eastside, in the former Peking, with a lot of not very exciting standard Chinese and pan-Asian bento box and hibachi offerings but also, surprisingly, a wide array of actual Chinese food. Customers seem to have had mixed experiences, and you might have to ask for the special menu, but if you do, you can feast on spicy cumin lamb, good housemade noodles, soups with pickled vegetables, plenty of organ meats and the like. It’s the only other option besides Winterville’s Wok Star for this kind of thing.

On the ice cream front, Condor Chocolates, in Five Points, started making popsicles in collaboration with Hip Pops. La Michoacana… Es Natural, by the Ingles in Hull, opened a second location inside the Eastside Cali N Tito’s, with all the amazing ice creams, paletas and snacks of the original in a more compact space. Chill Spot Ice Cream, in Lexington, celebrated its first anniversary, and is a nice addition to its area. And the Pendergrass Flea Market, which is already a wonderland of culinary and other delights, added rolled ice cream at a stand called Beyond Ice Cream (and Spice Hut, an Indian restaurant that also does Mexican food). In Statham, Savvy Cakes, which used to be in Jefferson, does sandwiches as well as custom and premade cakes, gooey bars and other sweets, and scoops Greenwood ice cream.

Normal Bazaar, with growlers, some produce, nice bread, dairy and a little more, opened right next to J’s Bottle Shop, for nearly one-stop shopping. La Dolce Vita changed hands and names (to Dolce Vita Trattoria Italiana) but not menus. Hull added a place called Wing House Grill that serves beer, and Athens got a super-cute new food cart, Manila Express, that serves Filipino food and has made several outings so far.

In chain news, J. Buffalo Wings (which makes kinda good fried rice) opened in Beechwood, Charlie Graingers (hot dogs and brisket) opened on Epps Bridge, an Au Bon Pain opened in Amos Hall on campus, the area around Highway 29 North is adding a bunch of things (Dairy Queen, Taco Bell, Bojangles, plus the fourth location of Taqueria La Parrilla), Starbucks proliferated (in the Tate Center, with one in Target and one at Beechwood forthcoming), a JR Crickets has hung up a sign at the former Allen’s on Hawthorne, and Mamoun’s Falafel is looking at locations in Athens.

Other places that should open soon (or less soon) include a Five Points location of Sakura, the second (Oconee) location of Mama’s Boy (in September), The Office Sports Bar and Grill (a second location of a place in Columbus, not to be confused with The Office Lounge in Homewood Hills), La Superior (a Mexican bakery in the same building as La Michoacana, in Hull) and Akademia Brewpub, out near the mall, with Josh Aaron of The Savory Spoon in the kitchen. Zombie Coffee and Donuts is looking to build out more of its building to provide a free space for co-working in Athens, and 1000 Faces Coffee is busy renovating the former Good Dirt building on Thomas Street downtown to move its roasting and retail business there (Lindsey’s Culinary Market will move in downstairs). Matt Downs is reportedly taking over the currently closed bowling alley in Homewood Hills, and his Liberty (in the former Harris Street Locos) may yet open.

For the most comprehensive listing of all places to eat and drink in Athens, make sure you pick up a new copy of the Flagpole Guide to Athens or access it online throughout the year.