Goodbye, Ike & Jane

If you’ve ever been to Ike & Jane, you know why the closing of this local treasure in Normaltown was such a tragic loss for this neighborhood and, truthfully, for Athens as a whole.

Although I gave up desserts a few years ago, I still remember my first Ike & Jane donut—there is nothing like them. Nothing. Krispy Kreme can’t even compare. Not to mention their cupcakes. Oh my goodness! They are out of this world!

There’s a lot I can say about what’s been happening to local businesses in Athens. It started with the closing of Two Story Coffeehouse in Five Points, which was not my regular hangout, but still, it was someplace where I loved to go from time to time for the atmosphere and to meet for coffee.

But Ike & Jane—this one really hurts. Not just me, of course, but many of us who have memories there, who love the amazing staff—they are role models for customer service, hands down. And the overall experience—it’s hard to describe it if you have not ever spent any time in the café, but if you have, you know what I mean. The character of the neighborhood—creative and friendly and warm and inviting and open-minded—radiates in the smiles of the patrons and staff alike. People from all walks of Athens life flocked to Ike & Jane.

When I drove by the café on that last Sunday morning and saw the line down Prince Avenue, I thought, it’s 43 degrees outside, I’m not going to stand outside in line for a latte. I don’t need to say goodbye.

But when I reached the intersection of Oglethorpe and Hawthorne, I changed my mind. I turned the car around and waited 20 minutes outside with other local fans for one last soy latte at my favorite coffee house in Athens.

Even though I had not been to Ike & Jane in a month, they remembered me and my favorite drink. That’s one of the perks about a small town gathering place where people are happy to work and happy to see you. It’s not a cookie-cutter franchise, and that quality was not only reflected in the taste of their food, but also in the personalities of their people.

I said to the young lady at the counter, “I know you are probably hearing this a lot, but I wanted to tell you I am really going to miss you guys. This was where I brought my dog, Reggie, the day before he died. It was one of the last places in Athens he visited, and you all were so nice to let him stay with me in his stroller. It meant a lot to me.”

She smiled and said that a lot of people have been telling their stories. I also told her that in the past year, in what has been the hardest year of my life to date, the time I’d spent at Ike & Jane had helped me feel better.

But, see, Ike & Jane is that kind of place, where something like that can happen. It’s special. It’s unique. There is no other place like it in Athens.

I doubt there will be for a long time. But maybe, if we’re lucky, eventually they will find another space in Normaltown and be back to brighten up the whole neighborhood with their glorious return!

Ike & Jane, I will miss you.