Since there's milk for coffee at Vanessa Molina's new restaurant on Broad Street, it's technically not a completely vegan place. Her husband and business partner, Juan Molina, likes milk in his coffee, so the new place has milk.
But you won't find dairy or other animal products in the menu, which was developed by Vanessa and chef Michelle Berzack. "I'm really really picky," said Vanessa, who lived in Athens in the 1980s with her husband. "I almost have to know the cows personally that are producing the milk we use."
If you've been in Athens a while, you'll no doubt recognize the Molinas. Juan worked at Kinko's, on Broad Street, among other jobs, and was a member of Little Tigers, the Squalls and Go Van Go. Vanessa worked everywhere, including Almanac, the Bluebird, when it was on Washington, and at Rocky's, "when Bob Russo ran it and Rocky was upstairs, making sausage," she said.
The couple left and moved around, and Vanessa worked in the fashion industry on both coasts for years before they decided to move back to Athens. They were going to retire and rescue animals, friends said, but their plans changed.
And now here they are, working 14 to 18 hours a day, serving food and coffee.The place opened last week, to the great delight of customers.
If you were ever in Walter's Barbecue, you won't recognize the place. It's bright and cozy, just the sort of spot for curling up with a plate of blueberry pancakes and a nice cup of coffee.
The hours are now 7:30am to 2:30pm, Monday to Friday, and 8:30am to 3:30pm on the weekends. Between now and Thanksgiving, they'll open for supper as soon as an evening crew is trained.
"The response has been great so far," Vanessa said. "I think people wanted another vegan/vegetarian place in town."