Breakfast at Mimi’s, one year later

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 In a conversation recently about the prospective Pinewood Studios complex in Fayette County, someone asked if I thought movie industry people relocating here from the West Coast would take to a place like Mimi’s.

Well, I don’t know that many would search out a place for breakfast and lunch at Dividend and Kelly Drive unless they were looking at homes in Planterra Ridge, but yes, I do think they would like Mimi’s.

Another observed that our local affinity for Mimi’s might be kind of a “Southern” thing, but I don’t think so. Of course a chauffeured and pampered someone expecting roast duck with cucumber and miso sauce on fresh baked ciabatta, accompanied by a delicate red wine aged in French oak barrels to keep the flavor understated, might be better suited to Atlanta’s fine dining rooms overseen by a maitre’d in a tux, stiff back and elevated nose.

But on the whole, I think people are pretty much the same whether from the Northeast, deep South or sophisticated West Coast, and would find comfort in a place that makes them feel welcome, invited to relax with table fare much like Mom used to serve. On the first visit, Mimi’s may be just a place to eat, but the regulars know it is something more.

That’s why we worried about Mimi Gentilini just over a year ago when she lost her lease, and we thought maybe she lost her mind, too, when she chose a new location that demands a small search.

A few of us know by the time she had passed the multitude of inspections and restaurant license requirements, on the day before opening when a fire inspector found a small vent problem that required caulk, Mimi pressed him to return that same day to inspect the repair because she was “down to dimes” and desperate to open the next day.

One year later Mimi’s base of regulars like me slowly expands as new patrons return a few times, commiserate a little at first with newly familiar faces until they become a regular themselves, looking forward to the casual encounters as much as a meal.

To me and my buds, it is “Mimi’s social club,” our coffee hangout. You won’t hear orders like “Goat milk double half-caff half-fat soy latte grande with rose scented syrup and vegan dark-chocolate biscotti, extra-hot please!” With our breakfast we order coffee, decaf or hot tea, unless we lean exotic and go for orange juice.

In fact, the only thing pretentious at Mimi’s is arguably, well, me, because I have my own marked seat. Don’t judge me until I explain. I like to sit with my back to the wall in a corner with a full view of the room, a subconscious defense thing my buddies, who have been shot at, understand.

When I walked in one morning to find Skip Ragan in “my” seat, I remarked to him as a joke, “I guess I’m going to have to put up a sign to reserve my seat.” That day Skip retaliated by making a sign for “Terry’s seat” and hung it over “my” seat with Mimi’s permission; it still hangs there.

Last Wednesday when I walked in, Skip was at my table with co-conspirators Scott Bradshaw and Mike King, who was warming “my” seat. As I approached to join them, Mike moved over to the other side to vacate, despite my admittedly meek protest, treating me like royalty for a laugh.

But I’ll go along with their antics since it gets me the seat and safe feeling I prefer.

Mimi’s is not only a place to eat, it’s a place to schedule a meeting, chat with old and new friends. It can also be a sanctuary, like when Jim Pennington and I meet to talk about anything in the world other than city business to relieve the pressure, but don’t tell anybody. When Scott Bradshaw and Mike King join Jim and me, I have no control on the conversation, so don’t blame me.

Below, Mimi Gentilini confers with breakfast regular Scott Bradshaw. Photo/Special.



While eating, chatting or just lollygagging over coffee, you can’t help noticing the things Mimi’s patrons bring her.

Bill and Nina Divens, both octogenarians and still in love, have become Mimi’s informally adopted parents. Bill made for her a wooden cradle for the grandchildren Mimi doesn’t yet have, and Nina brings necklaces made with her own hands.

There came a time last year when both Bill and Nina were in the hospital at the same time, and Mimi was there just like family, providing comfort and conferring with doctors.

Then Mimi’s health took a temporary dive, requiring her own hospital stay, and the constant stream of flowers from her patrons made one nurse inquire whether she was some kind of celebrity.

Now and then Al Hogg brings Mimi a hydrangea bouquet from his yard, as does Greg Barber, and in season Al brings her peaches from Peach County. Jeannie Bradshaw adds variety to the blooms in the restaurant with her homegrown zinnias.

The tomato on your BLT at Mimi’s might come from a patron’s garden, washed well before slicing of course, brought in a basket or bowl routinely, a small gift for someone they appreciate.

On a more highfalutin’ note, a customer with adventurous taste brought her glass earrings – one an egg and the other a strip of bacon, and many have brought her additions to her Coke bottle collection.

The week Mimi opened last year Roger Casale brought her a good luck bamboo plant, and it must have worked, for it still lives.

Bill Camper brings shims to solve the occasional rocking table. He adds a little to the place by spreading cheer from table to table and you would never know one of his eyes was blinded by an artillery shell in combat. Mimi agreed to John Harrell’s plan to bring a U.S. Marine Corps flag for a selected spot on the wall.

At Christmas time, the never-still Mimi insists on lots of decoration, including window murals painted with her own hands. Al Farms supplied handmade wooden decorations for the tree brought in by Vince Garland. Dean Fryer hung and wired Rudolph on the wall, a deer head with a red light bulb for a nose, a little redneck Christmas cheer.

Dot and Don Thomas, a daily breakfast fixture, bring Mimi flowers on her birthday.

Jerry and Maureen bring the gift of always wearing T-shirts that entertain us all.

There are too many others to mention, small gifts that will never make Mimi wealthy. But there are different ways to be rich and Mimi is blessed with an abundance of best friends.

The greatest gift, she said to me recently, is the loyalty of great customers. She doesn’t have to worry any more whether her new restaurant location will make it. Breakfast mornings vary from scattered to slammed while the business lunch crowd is firm and growing.

On Sunday morning I advise arriving before 9 a.m. since the nearby church wraps up their service soon after, and empty tables might fill up fast.

Saturday gets busy, too, when I sometimes get to talk local political trash with Greg Dunn, former Fayette County Commission chairman, with his fellow past commissioner and constant sidekick, Peter Pfeifer.

On those busy days Mimi can be seen at the grill with her other cooks, her arms flying about in a blur, constantly in quick motion, which is normal for her anyway because she has Type I diabetes and keeping her activity up is her way of staying off insulin. She rises at 4:30 a.m. every day to start moving early.

Clark Howard wrote about Mimi’s health insurance plight in his new book, “Living Large for the Long Haul.” In a chapter at page 247 titled “Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now,” Howard writes about Mimi’s constant motion and insurance difficulty with pre-existing conditions.

She looks forward to the new pre-existing condition rules of Obamacare scheduled to become effective next year, which is a paradox since her politics are to the right of Attila the Hun even though she grew up in the Democrat stronghold known as New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Mimi focuses on keeping her patrons happy with good food and an atmosphere a little like home. She enjoys fussing over some like Al and Myrna Baird, who celebrated their 51st anniversary just days ago on July 12.

Do I think people accustomed to the amenities of Los Angeles will like Mimi’s?

Absolutely, if they find it in the first place and return a few times so to them it transforms from a diner for a meal to a comfortable place to relax, eat and greet new friends, a place where others are glad to see them again, where people from all stations in life rub elbows and greet each other as equals.

Who wouldn’t like that?

[Terry Garlock lives in Peachtree City and writes columns occasionally for The Citizen. He has authored a book, “Strength & Honor: America’s Best in Vietnam.” His email is terry@garlock1.com.]

borntorun
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Mimi's

Very nice article, Terry. You make Mimi's sound like Mayberry...and we need more Mayberry in today's world. I don't know Mimi but she is blessed to have so many people looking out for her and her business. For some reason, I have not thought of Mimi's as an eating (not dining..lol) destination in the past but I will from now on. Thanks again for a great article.

Cyclist
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Hmm, Breakfast at Mimi's

Sounds like an opportunity for us bloggers to gather for breakfast one weekend morning. Anyone interested?

MYTMITE
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Cy, I'll be there if you promise to wear your cycling regalia.

Haven't been able to make the last several, but hope if a time is chosen that I wll be able to make it. Miss seeing all you handsome, charming gentlemen.

Cyclist
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Hey MYTMITE - Mimi's B'fast

Let's look at next Saturday (8/3). What time works for you?

Anyone else?

MYTMITE
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Is ten too late for you guys? If so will try to make it earlier

if that is better for everyone else.

Cyclist
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MYTMITE

It looks like it's only going to be just us two. Let's pencil this on the calendar for 10. I'll see if I can get the boss to come.

MYTMITE
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Sounds good Cy. Maybe between now and then there will be others

who decide to join us.

Cyclist
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MYTMITE - B'fast at Mimi's

I'm going for a quick ride early in the AM. Will 1100 be OK???

PTC Observer
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Cyclist - Wish

I could go over there this morning but alas I am leaving town again. As I mentioned to Mr. Garlock, I will be going over after school starts. For me at least, things will be getting more settled by then.

Let us know what you think of the food and count the politicians for me. There the ones shaking hands with all that enter the door.

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PTC O - Traveling

Leaving town, eh? Monday, I'm off to McAllen, Tx and then across the border to Reynosa, Mex. The forecast Tuesday is sunny and 106. The things I do for money.

I'll let you know how this fat boy rates Mimi's.

Cyclist
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B'fast at Mimi's

Nice little neighborhood grill serving comfort/diner food.

moelarrycurly
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Cy

Twisted Taco or nothing. Rooftop, on a rainy night in Georgia.:)

Cyclist
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Hey moe,

I drove by the taco joint this evening and they are still working on the upstairs albeit very slowly.

Anyways, it looks like it's just MYTMITE and myself that is unless you can make it. Heck, I'll buy the first round of coffee...I was going to anyway.

G35 Dude
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Mr Garlock

How late do they serve breakfast? I'd really love to find a place that serves a real southern breakfast. I wish they had a menu online so that those of us that haven't been there could see what is offered and when.

tgarlock
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G35, you order what you want at Mimi's . . .

. . . when you want it 6am to 3pm when they close. For true southern bkfst the sausage and biscuit gravy is good, and I hear the country ham is good. I'm a bacon and egg sandwich guy most often, but mostly I like the coffee and conversation.

Terry Garlock

SPQR
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I love Mimi's

lot's of ways to claim a spot. so glad you chose a sign rather than other alternatives. BTW you're not the only hombre with a "wild Bill Hickock neurosis"

tgarlock
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You're right SPQR . . .

. . . a lot of us are not quite right in the head, and I know I'm in good company. For example, don't tell anybody, but when Scott Bradshaw is about to say something with some edge to it, he habitually looks behind him left and right, to make sure he knows who is listening even when he is sitting beside me with back to the wall. Can't be too careful, especially since the short-circuits in our heads are incurable.

Terry Garlock

PTC Observer
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Mimi's

Sounds like a great place to try, when exactly are the politicians not present?

I assume I'll just have to take my chances?

tgarlock
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PTCO, join me at my table . . .

. . . and any politicians present will just be swapping lies like the rest of us. They don't bite and it's a chance to tell them thanks for taking so much grief to do a job that pays little or nothing. I'll be happy to buy your coffee.

Terry Garlock

PTC Observer
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Mr. Garlock

What's the best time to find you at your table?

I may show up at the most expected time, but it is I that will buy coffee for you

tgarlock
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PTCO, I'm not there every day, but most weekdays . . .

. . . in the summer at 9 after dropping kids at camp, after Aug 12 at 8 after dropping kids at school. My coffee might taste a little better if you buy it.

Terry

PTC Observer
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Mr. Garlock - Thanks

I'll introduce myself but knowing your schedule and mine it looks like it will be after school starts.

moelarrycurly
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Redneck Christmas cheer

Seems Dean might have lost some of that PTC cheer in the last 7 months or so. Too bad. Mimi's is a good place to have a meal. I like it.

http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/06-25-2013/ptc-cops%E2%80%99-motto-%E...

tgarlock
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MLC, Dean hasn't lost a thing . . .

. . . and if you're in and out of Mimi's you'll run into him sooner or later. Just because he has a gripe doesn't mean he dislikes PTC, quite the contrary.

Terry Garlock

moelarrycurly
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tgarlock

What PTC has provided him for years (and yes, it works both ways) is a lifestyle that is unique to what other cities have been able to offer in this state. Even those who chose to move out of PTC.

The Ronnie Reagan tear down that wall comment was uncalled for, as was the rest of the post. It was total sour grapes, as everyone who read it could see. Who is still stuck in the 1971 a couple of thousand people population mentality that existed in virtually isolated PTC back then? Our PD cannot do it's job ensuring we remain at the top of safe cities in Georgia by just giving a tip of the cap to any law breaker cruising by any more. What these underpaid enforcers of the law do for us is beyond what anyone could ever imagine, probably similar to what you refer to regularly here about your past.

PTC PD is an critical piece of the quality of life here in PTC, as we know, and since he thinks the chief is not sending staff out each day to serve and protect us, well, give us a valid example of that, not just a whine after being found in violation of one of our laws.

tgarlock
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MLC, I'm a flag-waver for . . .

. . . law enforcement, too, but PTC PD has a history of overly aggressive enforcement on its own citizens. That has been toned down a bit in recent years. You may not like it, but it is true.

Terry Garlock

moelarrycurly
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tgarlock I am not

a flag waver for our PD. I do appreciate the safety I feel in living here. I recognize what it takes to achieve that. I appreciate the commitment involved by our PD to help maintain our quality of life

I do not, nor do my friends here, ever have conversations about any overly aggressive enforcement. Let me step out on a limb here and assume that conversation would only occur between friends who have been found to be breaking our laws or their children have. Again, sour grapes. Tough tooties, I say to them.

What examples of overly aggressive enforcement are you aware of that we should know about? I'd be interested in hearing about them.

tgarlock
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MLC, no need to re-open old wounds . . .

. . . and the point here is don't assume bad things about Dean, he's a good guy even if you disagree with him.

Terry Garlock

moelarrycurly
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tgarlock-say what?

Uh, gee. The letter was written to The Citizen dated June 25th. Prompted by a ticket from a stop weeks before that? Seems you are a little confused about what constitutes old in his complaint about the PD. Last I checked, that's pretty new.

I asked you to give examples of your comment of overly aggressive policing here and you come back accusing me of assuming bad things about the letter writer. Man, that's rich.

tgarlock
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Moe, you're a little too quick to . . .

. . . assume the worst. The old wounds I referred to are the history of overly aggressive policing, and nothing good will come of dragging up old stories. Best to let it lie and hopefully die. You'll have to look elsewhere for an anonymous keyboard argument.

Terry Garlock

moelarrycurly
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Garlock, you are a little too slow..

...following along here...or maybe just your way of avoiding answering. Your choice. However, next time you choose to engage anyone, anonymous or not, a difference of opinion does not constitute an argument, even if you say it does. I enjoyed your article about Mimi's, as I am sure others have. I also look forward to commenting about things as I see them.
I think there is room for both. If Cal thinks not, I will accept his decision. In any event, keep smiling, and keep your keyboard humming and I will, too.

SPQR
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MLC

I'll recount one. I was WAY overcharged for a traffic violation by one of PTC's finest. I knew it but not wanting to take a chance I had to hire an attorney who immediately asked which one of PTC's brightest wrote this up. Took about 2 seconds for the DA to agree and drop the charges but cost me lots of bucks.

Liferfrom65
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PTC's finest

I love seeing PTC's finest on patrol everywhere I go but I too have seen some overly aggressive ticket writing where a warning would have had the same results. These were for non-moving violations. Oh well, I guess I need to pay taxes somehow since I'm no longer a home owner here.

Re Mimi's: My daughter and I have a standing date Saturday mornings for breakfast. She likes to drive the golf cart over there. Mimi doesn't mind you carrying a gun there either.

moelarrycurly
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Lifer

You made that determination that a warning would have had the same results as a ticket from observing...if only the rest of the non-taxpaying, non-resident population had that intellect...if only.

Liferfrom65
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Yes, I observed it

As it happened to my son. Just because I no longer own a home doesn't mean I don't live here.

moelarrycurly
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Next time lifer,

I will read your mind after I read your post. Or not.

Liferfrom65
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Mo

And I won't bother reading anymore of your posts, I can't understand them anyway.