The shared kitchen/market version of Jennie de la Vega's Mama Bird's Granola, in the 909 Broad building, will close Sept. 24, after operating for two years. The space is up for lease.
Although some folks made use of the shared kitchen—which was licensed by the Department of Agriculture for the production of foods to be sold at retail, but not an option for food trucks—there weren't enough of them to cover expenses. This is unfortunate, as the groceries for sale in the space included fresh produce, making it a small oasis in the fresh-food desert that is downtown Athens. The granola side of the business will continue elsewhere and seems to be in fine shape.
De la Vega confirmed that she would still be at the West Broad Farmers Market weekly, with biscuits, granola, muffins, tamales and aguas frescas.
She said she is "actively searching for a small non-retail based kitchen in or around Athens to re-setup a small kitchen within the next six months to a year. The other clients who used my kitchen will be forced to rethink their own unique situation. I have discussed this with them at length. It's unfortunate that the kitchen itself was forced to take on and rely on a ruthless business partner; however, the kitchen struggled since Day One to support itself. I love my customers and my kitchen clients, and the folks at 909 Broad have been the best to work with! The retail and kitchen space is available and can be assumed according to the terms of my lease! For Athens, the rent is affordable."
Niece's Soul Food Cafe is in a similar situation, closed and looking for a new location. Up until now, it shared space with a deli inside the African/Asian market in the shopping center at 50 Gaines School Road, but Niece's owner Cassandra Boykin said, "This location will no longer accommodate the needs for both to operate in an efficient manner."
Boykin has launched an Indiegogo project "to acquire equipment and to re-open at a new location. It is our desire to remain on the east side of Athens because the response has been very welcoming. We love our customers and look forward to serving them delicious food and BBQ very soon!"
In Watkinsville, the space next to Kiki's Bakeshop that was The Local Table will soon be The Traveling Hobo Café, shooting to open in September and focusing on hamburgers. The owners come from Savannah, where they operated Silverado's Saloon and Kitchen.