Mimi’s has reopened; look for her
Tucked away near the inside corner of an L-shaped strip of businesses, almost as if trying to hide, 50 yards west of the railroad tracks crossing Kelly Drive and barely east of Dividend Drive, Mimi’s has re-opened in a most unlikely place for a restaurant.
You may think a restaurant is just a place to eat but for many of us in Peachtree City Mimi’s is more than that. We are glad her down-time is over, relocation to the off-beaten path at 303 Kelly Drive now complete.
For the regulars at Mimi’s, walking through the door is much like Norm making his entry to Cheer’s, warmly greeted by name, a place of fellowship with familiar faces even when names are elusive. Mimi’s is our place, like an escape to sanctuary or the relaxed comfort of coming home. I’ll give you a peek.
Last Friday Mimi not only cooked Al Hogg’s breakfast, she also brought him tomatoes she had saved for him from her garden. That reminded Al to tell Stephanie where to find the peaches he brought for her that morning.
If you want verification the sun came up, just ask if Don and Dot Thomas came in for breakfast, because if they didn’t there is cosmic trouble afoot.
When Mike King, Scott Bradshaw and I gather at Mimi’s several mornings a week, we tend to solve at least one of the world’s problems even though implementation falls apart since none of us is the emperor.
On the days Scott gets a better offer – he calls it adult supervision when his wife, Jeannie, joins him at Mimi’s – Mike and I are more noticeable for our rough edges without Scott to smooth out our lack of diplomacy. Especially Mike.
Last year the build-up to Michelle’s wedding took months. In the aftermath, the wedding photo album was on display, and now the expectation of her first child in January is beginning to spread.
I missed the dinner Mimi had for regulars when Kylie sang for the crowd. Maybe she’ll do it again.
Earnie Broadwell, still struggling on a crutch, took the time to explain last week to Mimi that he would be visiting family and not around for a couple of weeks. When is the last time you did that in a restaurant?
Earl Jones, who flew F-100s in the Air Force, always has a story to tell about other vets or the kids’ amazing talent in the Kiwanis art show.
Chuck Richey, one of Mimi’s best friends, brings in his high school daughter, Jessica, now and then to brighten up the room.
Billy, Bill, Tom and Al are veterans who meet every Wednesday, as reliably as the swallows returning to Capistrano, always sitting at the same table unless someone was too dense to leave that table clear that morning. That’s Al Farms, not Al Hogg, which can be confusing because Al Hogg joins them half the time anyway, making it two Bills, two Als and a Tom. Now they get to choose a new table and train us all over again to reserve it for them.
We are waiting to hear from Bill of that group — Bill Camper — whose wife, after years of waiting, got the call to schedule kidney transplant surgery, and we don’t yet know the outcome.
Mimi has always been a strong military promoter, and she adopted WWII vet Bill Divins and his wife Nina as her surrogate parents, a protective move, Mimi says, to keep them out of trouble.
When Mike tells Stephanie, “The usual!” she knows to order scrambled eggs, sausage and grits. Ashley knows Scott wants a tall coffee and some conversation before he orders, and when he gives the high sign she orders eggs, bacon and toast, all nuked to a crisp. But it’s easy enough to tell them what you want, and I confuse Stephanie now and then by taking a second cup of coffee.
Skip Ragan still has to remind Stephanie once in a while when he orders sunny side up eggs on top of his waffle, he doesn’t need any syrup, thank you.
When I’m alone in the morning, quiet time with coffee and the morning paper is a blessed thing, but don’t tell my buddies.
These are just a few of the many regulars who think of Mimi’s as a sort of our own semi-functional family, our place to chat with friends over breakfast or lunch. There’s way too much hugging going on for me, just like in a real family.
Some of us missed Mimi’s in the two weeks she was down in the transition, but our inconvenience pales in comparison to her scramble around the clock to tear apart one restaurant – the grill equipment is a monster – and reassemble another.
Even when she had a little time to sleep, our favorite short-order warrior was plagued with visions of all the inspections she had to pass. As it turned out, by merely asking for help Mimi discovered that government sometimes does work.
Describing herself as just a guppy in a goldfish bowl, Mimi says Kathy Gray at the Peachtree City front desk made her feel like someone important every time she inquired about who she needed to talk to about various inspections and approvals.
Dave Williamson and John Dunlap from the Fire Department advised how she could set things up to avoid problems, and when she was ready for inspection Chris Campbell came two times in one day, giving her a chance to correct some minor issues and avoid more lost time.
At the County Health Department Robert Kurbis gave Mimi a load of pre-inspection guidance. Inspectors Michelle and Debbie added their help, gave her a punch list from a preliminary inspection, and responded within half an hour for the final. Mimi scored a 99, pretty impressive in the restaurant business.
When Mimi applied at the city for a sign permit, Tony in Code Enforcement reminded her she had to have an Occupational License change, and he helped her complete the form on the spot to save time.
Brian Epstein at Safebuilt, a contractor for electrical and equipment inspections, was quick to respond and agreeable to double-up on one appointment to save time.
These accommodations were important to a small business struggling to open, while every day of delay meant continued fixed expenses and lost revenue that would never be recovered.
Mimi takes from this experience that, even though the economic squeeze is tough on city and county governments, when officials consider personnel cuts and talk about it publicly, they should have enough sense to remember these are real people who very often are committed to doing their job well. She is one small business owner who says thanks to each one for a job well done.
Now that Mimi’s quest to reopen is done, and she can focus what little spare time she has on refinements, residents of Planterra Ridge and workers along Dividend Drive will slowly discover their own nearby breakfast and lunch hangout. A new generation of Mimi’s regulars has already started.
We old regulars are getting used to the new setting. My new favorite spot is on the bench seat against the wall furthest from the door, with my back protected and a view of the entire room. That’s just me, I’m jumpy. I’m sure as new people discover the place, I’ll have to settle for a different seat now and then.
Meanwhile, as Scott said, until the crowd comes Mimi’s is our hideaway. Find it if you can!
[Terry Garlock of Peachtree City occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. His email is email@example.com.]