Posted June 24, 2007 08:57 pm

Let’s hope Calvin will bring back the hot foods

Cocaine’s one hell of a drug.
– Rick James

Where have you gone, Calvin Green? A hungry city turns its lonely eyes you. Woo, woo, woo.

The Augusta restaurateur’s wildly popular Hot Foods by Calvin restaurant remains closed three weeks after Mr. Green was sentenced to six years of probation for cocaine possession.

Hot Foods’ phone number has been disconnected, and its old Web site, is, well … let’s just say it’s no longer a restaurant site.

If this is the end of the business, it would be a remarkably sad end for the Southern-style eatery that just last year won Augusta Magazine’s Best of Augusta award.

I’m predicting a comeback, though. I believe the dining public would give him a second chance for two reasons:

1. He makes darn good food.
2. He’s not a “bad guy.” Despite the recent cocaine charges and a 2006 conviction for writing bad checks, Mr. Green does not appear to be a career criminal. He sounds more like a man whose judgment was clouded by drugs.
Just say no, kids.

READER FEEDBACK: I’ve received a lot of response to my recent column on the National Security Agency’s billion-dollar operations center under development at Fort Gordon.
Most people said they had never heard of the project. Those who had didn’t realize how big a deal it is.

I believe the feedback reinforces my original point that, even with stories in this newspaper (weekday circulation: 73,561), the community is relatively ignorant to the 4,000-employee operation’s economic impact.

As for my comments that economic officials haven’t championed the center, the Development Authority of Richmond County replied that it featured the project in its April newsletter (monthly circulation: 500). What, you’re not on the list?

COMPLICATED SHOPPING: I read a national news story about a store called Epicenter Collection that’s planned to open at a mall in Delaware next year.

The store will have merchandise from online retailers and catalog companies so customers can “touch” and “feel” a product before making the decision to order it.
With me so far? Good. Here’s the concept as a hypothetical scenario: Let’s say you spot a lime-green golf shirt at a great price online. You say to yourself, “Hmm … I wonder if I could pull that off with my skin tone?”

So you get in your car, drive to the Epicenter Collection showcase store, find the shirt and hold it up to your chest in the mirror before deciding, “Yeah, that will work with my skin tone.”

Then, instead of just buying the shirt, you get back into your car, drive back, type your credit card number into cyberspace and wait five to seven days for UPS to leave the shirt on your doorstep.

They say technology makes our lives easier. I say it also gives us great new ways to do stupid things.

DUNK ’EM IF YOU GOT ’EM: Starbucks has sprung up all over Augusta except one place: Broad Street. One of its top rivals in the coffee/baked goods/sit-here-for-three-hours-and-use-our-Wi-Fi concept might beat it to the punch, though.

Rumor has it that Dunkin’ Donuts has been eyeing downtown for a possible store, with the old Woolworth’s building being tops on its list. Nothing is set in stone, but enough interest has been shown that downtown officials and denizens have heard the news.
Not since the opening of the Mellow Mushroom chain (yes, it’s a chain) would such a development send a message that downtown Augusta has “come back” from its decline. Although I’m hopeful such a development occurs, I refuse to hold my breath in anticipation.

I’ve seen too many grandiose plans for downtown properties – Bonnie Ruben’s announcement to convert the former Kress building into an open-air retail center (The Augusta Chronicle, Aug. 15, 2003) – to risk asphyxiation.