Land of the lost

Special to The Citizen

Opening and owning a restaurant is a difficult business. There is some statistic out there that says that most restaurants fail within the first six months they are open. Hollywood romances fare better than a lot of restaurants, especially if they aren’t franchises and are labors of love of the people who owned them.

Sorry to start the new year on such a downer but the closing of the Great Wraps across from Piedmont Fayette Hospital has me feeling a little maudlin. I love Great Wraps. The thing that first got me to come in the door was the promise of a gyro. I don’t know if it’s the pita bread, the special sauce or the thinly sliced meat (lamb?) from the spit, but the whole thing is terrific. Once I started going there though, I started trying other items on the menu and I was hooked. There were chicken clubs, philly cheeseteaks, cold cuts, and the amazing Santa Fe, which was chicken, cheese, veggies and bacon. Even the Hummus Veggie was delicious. Once they threw in some curly fries with seasoned salts, I had myself a meal.

And then it was gone.

I know there are other places around where I can get a gyro (Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta and Broadway Diner both have good ones), but that’s not the point. I liked having Great Wraps as an option and it went the way of the dinosaur.

So did Backyard Burger. Was it pricey? Yes, but it was good. Their BBQ Bacon Burger rivaled most others in town. It had a convenient location (for me, anyway) and gave diners an option a few steps up from other places with a drive-thru window. I know a lot of people who swore by their Hawaiian pizza. It wasn’t for me. Pineapple is just a decoration or a thing to make juice out of and add it to orange juice.

I also miss Malone’s. Every once in awhile, back when the world looked rose-colored and our pockets were flush, the gang here at The Citizen would go to Malone’s for lunch. There were breadsticks, hearty lunch specials like meatloaf, and steaks. Wonderful steaks. Malone’s had a good atmosphere and ambience. It felt like a nice restaurant and going there for lunch felt special. And then one day, POOF, it was a Golden’s On the Corner and then one day, POOF, that was gone too.

I realize that food service a tough industry and while I may always see a good crowd in there when I’m visiting, it doesn’t mean that the dining establishment is always having good days. Sometimes, it isn’t even a lack of customers that leads to a restaurant closing its doors. Business was booming at Cameron’s on Georgia Hwy 54 one day and the next day, literally, it was gone.

Sun Dried Tomato in Tyrone also closed it’s doors. I enjoyed that place too, but I have to admit that it was a place The Foodies reserved for special occasions. I think a lot of people treated it that way and it may not have been enough to keep them open.

Village Cafe had that special kind of feel to it, too, but it was a popular lunch stop and a mainstay for Fayette County’s movers and shakers. I dined there on occasion and saw a lot of the town’s VIPs nibbling on items like the Cuban sandwich and Black Bean Soup, which was also my favorite. They closed up shop and the space became just another vacancy in town.

I also miss Valentino’s. A lot. To paraphrase Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” I think I miss them most of all. We were friendly with the owners there for awhile and there were a lot of family dinners or brunches there. The food was out of sight and while we tended to gravitate to our old favorites, there was always something new and interesting to try. They may have gone a little astray (at least for me) with their Italians of the Caribbean menu, but their garlic scallion salad dressing is something that I find myself wishing for a lot these days (stupid diet). The owners moved the restaurant to Newnan. It then became Peg Leg Polly’s, I think, and then I think that place closed too.

Bummer.

Whether you miss the Del Taco and the Frank N’ Stein, Shadows or GTO’s, chances are there is some place you wish was still around.

Please leave a comment about the eatery you miss the most.