This letter is to the owners of the Normaltown building that currently houses Ike & Jane. The news that this beloved neighborhood institution is closing has been received with shock, disbelief and tears. As the closing date comes closer, there is a deep sense of loss for a true cornerstone of our community.
Ike & Jane is the place where our family frequently goes on lazy weekend mornings for a late breakfast. This is the place where virtually every time we go, we run into someone we know. This is the place where, no matter how long the lines are, the staff is always friendly and patient, especially with little ones who struggle mightily to make their choice from the dazzling array of tasty treats. This is the place where there is always a bowl of clean water for the canines who frequently accompany their humans. Finally, this is the place that has always subscribed to the values of fresh food, sustainability and giving back that Athenians are devoted to.
Too often, we only belatedly realize the value of what we have after we lose it. The lines at the bakery last weekend were especially long, and the sentiment among patrons was one of, “I always thought this place would be here forever.” We heard about the lady who, upon hearing the news, drove all the way from Nashville, TN, with her baby granddaughter, just so they would have the shared experience, and drove right back after eating at the bakery. There was talk of weddings catered, anniversaries celebrated and mystery doughnuts at football games. Personally, the very first breakfast that my family had in Athens upon our move here some years ago was at Ike & Jane.
Over the years, the community has watched with a sense of helpless inevitability as the unique feel of Athens has been chipped away by the loss of beloved local institutions. It is my understanding that Ike & Jane was among the very first businesses of its kind to serve Normaltown when little else was there. As the years have passed and the desirability of the neighborhood has skyrocketed, it is ironic that one of its cornerstone businesses is being forced out of the area because it cannot afford to operate there anymore.
I recognize that you, as the owners of the building, have the right to decide its future. But surely, there is a solution that allows you to realize your vision while preserving the character of the neighborhood? Perhaps a lifetime supply of free doughnuts could help change your mind?
My attempt at levity aside, I also recognize that there is little chance this letter will effect any change. However, I cannot help but try, because this one hits close to home. I certainly hope that the vision you have for this location will foster the same sense of community that Ike & Jane is beloved for. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.