It's hard to tell this story and not whip out every clichÃ¨ you know about returning to your roots, starting over, or coming full circle. There, now that we've gotten the formalities out of the way, I feel a little more comfortable proceeding with the issue at hand: A great new bakery and deli has opened on Tybee Island.
"We had about a month to make a decision on this space," says AJ Baker, owner of the very popular Sundae CafÃ© on Tybee Island. "We thought it might happen, but my landlord basically said he had seven other people waiting to look at it if we didn't want it, so we took it."
The space he's referring to is a couple of doors down from Sundae CafÃ©. Same strip shopping center, if you are familiar with the area. If you are not, it looks like a gas station as you drive by. In fact, the gas station/convenience store is next door. Sundae CafÃ© is the best fine dining on the island. Those who know, know that.
The CafÃ© on 80 Deli and Bakery is the official name. It is AJ's third location on the island, 80e Gastropub down the street being the second. So why a bakery and deli?
"Sundae CafÃ© started as a little deli 15 years ago," AJ says. "A lot of people don't know that. We had sandwiches, ice cream and cakes. Two years in, we were offered more space, so we went full-restaurant and lost the deli part of it."
The cafe and deli is small. No seating inside. There is a railing facing the window if you don't mind standing while you enjoy one of their sandwiches, doughnuts or milkshakes. The idea was to offer Tybee Island a grab-and-go concept. Among the sandwiches they offer are a traditional Italian, a club sandwich and AJ's favorite, the Low Country Cuban: ham, pork, pimento cheese instead of Swiss, pickles, mustard and mayo.
A lot of the sweets are being made in-house. That would include some of the doughnuts. The cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies and all breads are made by AJ's bakers. You see, AJ Baker is absolutely a chef, but he'd be the first to tell you that he is not a baker.
"Our baking team handles all of the breads and desserts for both restaurants from here," he says. "So we figured if we are were doing that, might as well do some sandwiches."
There's a huge chalkboard menu on the wall, which will allow them some flexibility in what they are doing. They are weeks-old right now, so how everything will evolve is yet to be seen. Breakfast sandwiches apparently are a big hit right out of the gate.
"Our doughnuts and bagels are super popular," AJ adds.
The goal going forward is to possibly expand into retail pies and cakes. Maybe take advantage of some of the destination wedding business coming to the island. Kind of getting back to where they were when they opened Sundae CafÃ© 15 years ago. AJ says there are no plans for anything else down the road. He's happy where they are.
"We are kind of going full circle."
See you on TV,
THE CAFE ON 80
Address: 304 1st St., Tybee Island
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
Info: Facebook page
The ladies of Big Bon Pizza are having a special event Jan. 26. It's a Korean food pop-up in the lane near Alley Cat Lounge in downtown Savannah. You'll find only Korean items that night, using some of Grandma's recipes. Read more about it now at eatitandlikeit.com or hear my chat with them on our podcast, "Shuck It!" Same spot.
I am hearing tons of great things about Fox & Fig, the plant-based eatery on Troup Square downtown. Brought to you by the Foxy Loxy family. I'll be popping in soon and chatting with them for a future podcast as well. We'll keep you posted.
Savannah Restaurant Week is coming Jan. 26 through Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4. Three courses for $30 at any number of participating restaurants. A great way to sample some of Savannah's best for a good price. See the ever growing list of restaurants at dining.savannahnow.com.
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