Originally created 01/12/04

Business decrease brought closing



ATHENS, Ga. - Bidders lined up for a chance at history Saturday as the Charlie Williams Pinecrest Lodge auctioned off 70 years of memories.

The establishment off Whitehall Road has been a historic fixture on the Athens scene since 1929, serving as both a catering business and a buffet-style restaurant over the years.

Mike Williams, nephew of Charlie Williams, the lodge's founder, took over the lodge in 1975. Mr. Williams said it's been a tough decision to sell the property.

"There comes a time when you have to separate a sentimental attachment to something from business value," Mr. Williams said.

Mr. Williams sold the lodge and its land to Shiver Homes Inc.

Shiver Homes Inc. has been developing a six-phase subdivision adjacent to the property.

Jud Shiver, the owner of Shiver Homes Inc., said every attempt will be made to salvage the lodge's main building, which was handcrafted with local stone by Charlie Williams.

Shiver Homes officials will inspect the building to see if it is in salvageable condition and then will potentially work a future phase of the development around the lodge.

Mike Williams cited expensive overhead and a decline in patronage of buffet-style restaurants for the lodge's demise. Mr. Williams will consolidate his operations at his full-service Charlie Williams Pinecrest restaurant off Timothy Road.

"It'll be a piece of Athens history gone," said Mark Williams, an auction attendant. "It's sad that the family didn't continue it."

Thirty-four-year-old Mark Williams remembered coming to the restaurant as a child and enjoying his favorite dish, which was "anything fried."

The auction's contents were a testament to Charlie Williams' pack-rat nature.

Throughout the morning and early afternoon, auction-goers pored over piles and piles of memorabilia heaped on tables inside and outside the restaurant.

By about 10:45 a.m., Mary Jo Logue, an Athens resident since 1967, had already spotted an item she wanted, an old butter mold like one her mother used to have.

As the auction moved from room to room, others bid on the restaurant's working equipment. Nothing was off-limits - kitchen equipment, office supplies, all of it faced the auction block.

A few auction attendants were interested not in remembering the past, but in getting a start on their future.

Josh Page, 18, of Buford, said he is trying to open a bar in downtown Athens. He visited the auction looking for equipment to help his new business get off the ground.

Evelyn Bloodsaw and Brenda Allen were looking over the dishes up for sale, hoping to nab some for their church's new fellowship hall.