Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 24, 2014

Closed doors

Mixed results for Athens businesses

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — Sometimes opening a restaurant can lead to a bucket full of trouble.

Customers of the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise at 612 W. Corsicana St. recently found the establishment closed, and a nearby Chinese restaurant also shut its doors.

In late 2013, Mazzio’s Pizza in the 300 block of West Corsicana Street posted a closed sign, redirecting its customers to the Ken’s Pizza on South Palestine Street. The West Corsicana Street restaurants are more signs of the shift of Athens business activity eastward, where many of the city’s largest retail establishments, such as Walmart and Brookshire’s are located.

Athens Planning and Development Director Gary Crecilius said as of now there’s not much waiting in the wings to take the place of the departed eating establishments. As of Friday, no major restaurant had firmed up plans to locate in the city in the near future, but the rumors of the Cotton Patch chain coming are founded in fact.

“I’ve talked with the architect, and think he may be close to submitting blue prints,” Crecilius said.

The Cotton Patch website lists Athens as a future location for the chain, which now has more than 30 restaurants.

This time one year ago, in January 2013, Athens was seeing a bit of business boom, with restaurants figuring into the mix. Mooyah Hamburgers, Moorelicious Frozen Yogurt on South Palestine Street and Pizza Hut/Wing Street on East Tyler Street were set to open. Little Caesar’s Pizza set up shop in the Heritage Square Shopping Center. Those businesses are busy today, but another 2013 addition, J.D. Tenders after a $600,000 construction process, failed to last the year.

“Mooyah” burger proved a success at its home on South  Palestine Street. The business provided a face lift for the area, after the demolition of aging structures that housed defunct businesses.

Athens has seen the addition of numerous restaurants in the past two decades, with most of the activity heading east on Tyler Street. Braum’s, Applebee’s, Julio’s, The Jalapeno Tree and McAlister’s are a few located in that section of the city, joining McDonalds, Old West Steakhouse and others along that stretch. Sonic and Whataburger relocated further east from their previous location.

Through the years, Athens has said goodbye to some old favorites. Anyone remember Italian Gardens, the Golden Corral, Dave Beard’s Catfish, the Ice House, Bean and Burger, Jams, Ranchero or the Jubilee House? Those are just a few recent eating establishments in Athens that have faded into history. But if history is any indication, there’ll be some new choices for lunch and dinner coming soon.