North Augusta restaurant closes down

Their last meals were plates of baked chicken, string beans and corn bread.

Some washed theirs down with sweating glasses of sweet tea and finished them off with slices of pie topped with whipped cream.

Sunday was the last day of business for North Augusta's 41-year-old S&S Cafeteria, as the down economy has forced the restaurant to close its doors for good. At noon, the line snaked out the door as regular customers and the occasional diner alike stopped in to say goodbye.

"Everybody hates that it's going," said North Augusta resident Cobie Williams. "We don't understand either because there's a line to get in most of the time."

Williams, who has been dining at S&S since it opened in 1970, ate a plateful of vegetables for his last after-church lunch.

Because his favorite baked tilapia was not on the menu, Williams stocked up on carrot salad, turnip greens and water with lemon.

While he said the food was his favorite part of the experience, he'll miss the pretty waitresses the most.

"I got my favorite waitress's number so I could check and see where she works at next," he joked.

The silver lining to the closing of the North Augusta staple is that regulars can still dine at the Walton Way location in Augusta, according to General Manager Dean Ashley.

The chain has eight locations in the South, but Ashley said the North Augusta cafeteria was not doing enough business to keep its doors open.

"People are pretty upset," Ashley said. "We are trying to tell a lot of them to go to the Walton Way store, but they don't want to drive all the way over there."

Some of the North Augusta employees will transfer to the Augusta location, but others will have to find different jobs.

The commute to Augusta is one Wally Galloway, who has lived in North Augusta for 42 years, is used to.

Before they married in 2010, Galloway and his wife, Mary, used to switch back and forth between the two locations.

While they were still dating, the Augusta location was closer for Mary, and the North Augusta restaurant was Wally's choice.

"We're sorry to see this one close, but we'll be going to the other one like we used to," said Wally, who shared a slice of lemon meringue pie with his wife for dessert.

But some things just can't be replaced.

Going to S&S in North Augusta after church on Sundays was like a religious experience of its own for Betty Murphy.

She used to spend the afternoons eating with her husband and meeting up with friends at their regular hangout.

What she hasn't decided is how she can fill the void.

"That I don't know," Murphy said.

Reach Tracey McManus at (706) 823-3424
or tracey.mcmanus@augustachronicle.com.

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