On April 22 of this year this article appeared in the AJC (Atlanta Journal and Constitution) about a local “landmark” restaurant:
Bobby and June’s Closing After 30 Years
By Rhonda Cook
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Next week on Friday, at 2 p.m., Bobby Crowe will lock the doors for the last time on the meat-and-vegetable restaurant that has carried his and his wife’s names for more than three decades – Bobby and June’s.
The 14th Street restaurant thrived for years. People would line up for lunch in the homey business that would seat around 75 people at a time.
Not any more.
“We were doing over $700,000 a year until the bridge closed the street,” said Bobby Crowe.
The bridge was 14th Street crossing the Downtown Connector just before Interstates 75 and 85 split going north. With that link broken, many 14th Street businesses closed or moved.
The owner of the Silver Skillet, another popular lunch and breakfast spot on 14th Street, said when the bridge reopened in September 2009 his business had dropped 30 percent. Crowe’s was down more than half.
“It kept a lot of people away,” the 79-year-old Crowe said from the front porch of his restaurant where he was greeting the Thursday lunch crowd. “I didn’t owe anybody a penny two years ago and now I owe $195,000 on the house I live in.”
Crowe secured a line of credit to supplement the restaurant’s income. He had 15 employees plus utilities and insurance had increased and was costing him almost $6,500 a month.
“That takes a lot of sausage and biscuits. It takes a lot of plates,” Crowe said of his expenses.
But the crowds didn’t return when the bridge reopened last September.
“That bridge down here killed me,” he continued. “I fought it and kept all my employees and did the best I could with what I had. I lost a lot of money since the bridge closed down. I kept hoping it [the business] would come back. The traffic on 14th Street didn’t come back like it was. Seventeenth [Street] gets all the traffic now.”
It was clear it was time to leave the business when he paid his taxes this month, Crowe said.
His wife of 44 years, June, has been ill for several years though she still does the restaurant’s accounting. Crowe now comes to the business for only a few hours a day and that’s to meet lunch customers.
His two children, who work at with the business, will find something else to do, said Crowe, who started in the restaurant business when he was 13.
On Friday a “for sale” sign will go up.
“In the following week, I would like to have somebody come out here and buy this thing and work out a deal to keep it open,” Crowe said. Either way, Crowe says he will retire to the North Georgia mountains.
“It’s the end of the line.”
Area residents were so upset by the news (there was also a bit on the morning news about their closing) that all his loyal customers came out in full force. About a week later this article appeared in the AJC:
Bobby and June’s Back By Popular Demand
By Christian Boone
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Bobby Crowe woke up this morning with a hoarse voice and a dramatic change of heart.
Customers at Bobby and June’s were greeted with this message Thursday outside the Midtown restaurant. “I didn’t know how many friends I had,” Crowe, 79, told the AJC Thursday from his venerable Midtown restaurant, Bobby and June’s. After personally welcoming a steady stream of customers coming for what they thought would be their final meal, Crowe has decided to put off retirement.
“If you open the door to Fort Knox, you’re going to keep it open,” Crowe joked with a customer.
The restaurant had been dealt a seemingly fatal blow by construction on the 14th Street Bridge. His profits cut in half and his wife of 44 years, June, battling cancer, Crowe decided it was time to retire to the mountains.
Longtime customers convinced him otherwise, and on Thursday those loyal patrons were greeted with a message tacked outside the restaurant’s entrance: “Due to the demand of all our customers, Bobby and June’s will stay open.”
“I was upset when I heard they were closing,” Joyce Metzer, 54, told the AJC as she waited in line Thursday afternoon. She’d already come for lunch earlier in the week, and last Friday she brought along 10 co-workers for a midday feast. “You don’t want to see a place like this go out of business,” she said.
Atlantans aren’t known for being nostalgic. This is the city, after all, that almost tore down the Fox Theatre to make way for a parking deck.
But good comfort food breeds fierce loyalty. Maximo Clavijo drove an hour from Cumming to visit his old lunchtime haunt. The 80-year-old retiree used to work down the street from Bobby and June’s but had not eaten there since the mid-1990s. “We came to say goodbye,” said Clavijo, “but we’ll be back again.”
So will Jana Ragsdale, a regular since 1996. “I was very upset when I heard they were closing,” said Ragsdale, 62. “It’s fast, it’s friendly and the veggies are wonderful.”
Judy Shelnutt, who’s worked at Bobby and June’s for more than two decades, said she was ready to retire when Crowe broke the news to his staff last week. And now? “It’s up in the air,” she said, smiling.
No such ambivalence from Crowe, who plans to keep the restaurant open another five to 10 years. His bedridden wife “jumped sky high” when he told her the news. “We didn’t want to close it,” he said. “Now we won’t have to.”
Amidst all the hubbub, I just happened to go by there on my way to Ikea with my girls and say the sign. I never knew where it was before. The next week on Hubby’s day off we decided to go to Ikea and stop by for lunch. Here are the pics I took while I was there and when we went in to eat.
Bobby was sitting out front on the porch in a rocking chair playing checkers with a regular customer.
Now that’s my kind of place to eat and the food was fantastic! We both had the fried chicken, just different veggies with it and it was very reasonable.
I do believe it is only open for breakfast and lunch. The inside was decorated mostly with golf memorabilia from Georgia Tech which makes sense when it is so close to the campus. Maybe I should have told Hubby where we were going to eat lunch before we left the house or at least maybe I should have warned him to change shirts.
If you get a chance, and you are in Atlanta around breakfast or lunch time, you really should stop by Bobby and June’s. I really don’t think you could go wrong!