Athens Georgia can be an odd place to visit. There is obvious creativity abounding around every corner; however you can also see that there is also plenty of failure as well. This town is littered with the remnants of creative entrepreneurism. "Throw enough "crap" against the wall to find out what will stick." is the quote that comes to mind. But, that is what makes this town successful. As I walked around downtown geocaching, after eating breakfast with my kids at the Five Star Day Café, I found haunting examples of this, in the empty buildings that we passed. Some were empty because they were closed, and some were empty because they were open. Some of the coolest looking spots were closed, along with two corner spots, which were perfect for making money. I think that some of the issues have been either over thinking, or under thinking the business. I think that the problem most of the time is not the ideas, but rather the execution. It is not enough to envision what the end product should be like. Looking around I am sure that some of these businesses had a good idea what they were going to do, but then just forgot what they were doing. The journey on how to get there is the real test of intellect, perseverance, and patience. But hey, that is just my opinion. This is why college towns are intriguing though.
Let me get back to our breakfast. You know that it is the most important meal of the day, right? Who came up with that nonsense? Why is it more important that lunch, dinner, or snacks even? How do think that makes those other meals feel? It is important, I agree, but more…not so sure about that. So, anyway, we all hooked up at the Five Star Day Café for the most important meal of our day. Most of the stores in downtown Athens are narrow shotgun style buildings. Most have big picture windows perfect for stray rocks or bb's to lodge themselves into. Five Star was no exception to this general rule. The four of us piled into the store all at once. This action was not too well prepared for by the owners. People entering your establishment should not be this challenging. There was not much room to stand and we were all close together like cows in a feedlot. I was handed a menu, which was a challenge, as I was trying to negotiate between my reading glasses and my to-go cup of coffee that I was still working on from the ride over from Atlanta. Reading the menu while fumbling around was not working out so well for me, even with assistance from my daughter. I went to plan "B" which was reading the chalk board with the Specials. Done. This should have been the deal from the beginning. Scrap the menu, write it on the board. The cashier was friendly and helpful, she took our order and then morphed into our waitress moments later. This may have been intentional, or it may have been a staffing issue. I never did figure that out. She kept my coffee cup full so we got along just fine.
The food came along rather quickly, which was a surprise. I don't know, I figured the dish boy and the cook were sharing jobs just like the cashier and waitress were. Big portions, with little star shaped biscuits as a garnish. Very nice touch. I saw a spark of intellect in that move. My thoughts were that they had found a star shaped biscuit cutter, and then named the place. Not sure about that. Anyway, I ordered the special scramble plate that had veggies tossed into the eggs. This was very good and filling. I donated my star biscuit to my son as I did not want to eat any poison on this fine morning. The general consensus was that the five star biscuits were tough and rather hard, but cute. The larger biscuits that came with the meals were lighter and were perfect. The signature dishes at our table and at other tables (yes, I went around and bugged other people while they were eating) were the biscuits and sausage gravy and the potato cakes. The sausage gravy was reported as a bit on the thin and runny side, but made up for that weakness with exceptional flavor. The potato cakes were described like unto a salmon patty texture with plenty of texture and flavor. I believe this was a potato and bread blend with seasonings most likely prepared just like a salmon patty. The eggs were light and fluffy, not overcooked like I cook them. The coffee was average, which was disappointing I admit. I always feel that if you call yourself a café you need to have exceptional beverages.
What makes visiting a place like Five Star Day Café fun is the small details that no one really pays attention to. There are so many quirky cool things that happen in places like these. I think it is the fact that they are not a cookie cutter operation, and that free thinking still has the upper hand. This can be a negative as well, but I think as long as owners to not have too many sacred cows themselves they will be just fine. Advertisements and stickers on the door is a key ingredient to any real establishment. Lots of beggars and promoters sticking crap on your door may indicate that you are a place where people will frequent often. Really cool signs and logos are a key ingredient as well. Five Star Day Café with those five star biscuits is real unique. Or maybe the goal is to get five stars on a review? Chalk boards are a another sign that point to creativity and uniqueness. I think that Five Star needs to go straight to a chalk board set up as they have limited foyer space. They could also hire servers and take the orders at the tables. This would solve the foyer issues as well. The cashier could be the host as well, but they would have to change the configuration of the cashier stand. This may not be a bad change for this store as they entry is somewhat of a cluster anyway. I was curious about the drink/tea bucket cooler in the foyer as well. It was sucking up space, and it was not really adding to the experience save some cool Nehi drinks that no one was really paying any attention to. There was art work for sale on the walls; this is always a clever way to decorate cheaply, especially in a college town. Five Star sported a semi open kitchen, where you could see flipping and stirring going on. I like an open kitchen view to a degree, and they did it very well. Cooks with crazy bandana hats and mix matched uniforms were featured.
The real star of the show was the food. Great food at the Five Star Day Café. They have not forgotten why they are there, or why you came there. People go out to eat to eat. Great job. Over all score ~ Four and a Half Stars. The Four and a Half Star Day Café. Athens Georgia. Go there when you are in town and you should not be disappointed.