I regret to inform you that Atlanta’s downtown coffee scene has its limits. And by that, I mean most all of the mom and pops and independents are just closed on the weekend. Within 24 hours of me singing the praises of certain coffee shops, like Grant Park Coffeehouse in particular, my braggadocio and swagger about town weakened to a jittery stumble. Closed. All closed. They are all closed on the weekend.
Even ones that said they were open on the Apple Maps app — they were closed too! And I feel personally responsible, as a friend and fellow volleyball dad lamented his own disappointment after journeying all the way there this morning. Such as the life of another city downtown that falls casualty to the casual Saturday and Sunday hang back in the suburbs.
So here I am left facing alternatives. Nothing. Now all the Apple Maps apps listings have populated CLOSED on seemingly each of the independents. So be it. Starbucks. But staying true to my wandering way, I sought out a location offsite from the hotel. There it was, one at the other end of Woodruff Park from Grant Park Coffeehouse.
I pleaded and hoped for a dark roast. No dice. They stop brewing that after 10. It was past noon. But when I asked if their medium was weak or strong, the barista fired off a tester cup for me. In these bleak conditions, it was good enough. So then, off for a bite while I was out and about. Again, with most of the independents closed over the weekend, I drew to Jimmy John’s just one street over and down a plaza of shops, that even at this hour was dominated by homeless.
Inside, the counter staff beamed proud and attentive, as though they owned and operated the place. They may indeed have been franchisees, and it showed. There was an energy and eagerness and appreciation there that most chain fooderies lack. I asked for “something roast beef” and they guided me through the billboard menu. They had no less than three. We landed on the #14, the Bootlegger Club, with both turkey AND roast beef. And while I don’t normally review chain takeouts, this one, given the circumstances merited it.
The bread was crisp and fresh. The turkey and roast beef, topped with shaved lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and a few splashes of oil and vinegar, tasted solidly good. With welcoming service, the Jimmy John’s by Woodruff Park easily earns 4 stars out of 5.
Meanwhile, after a walk back to the hotel to walk off the food, I glanced down to lobby Starbucks — again with a line 12 and 14 customers deep. Vindication. In the time it would take to get past those dozen or so orders of pink frilly drinks, I got my caffeine infusion, as well as some lunch. It pays to wander a bit from the shadow of a tall hotel, to get some fresh air, and explore a new city.