Thomas’ Café, noted to be the oldest eatery in Georgetown, dates back to the early 1900’s. The old-fashioned diner sits near the clock tower on Front Street in the historical district and currently is owned by Earnest Brunson.
While Beth Waniner was out on sick leave, Ashley Crawford and Kelly Crosby, two more of the café’s staff members, and I were talking about how old it was. I remember when the previous owner had hung a picture on the wall that read, “Est 1902.” However, Kelly said she had spoken with Mr. Thomas (the original owner’s son) awhile back and he said the restaurant had been established in the 1920’s.
Nonetheless, once you come through the door, you’ve almost walked through a portal of time that has long since gone. I brought my brother in during one of his visits to Georgetown and explained to him, “It’s like a scene right out of the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, with Jessica Tangy and Kathy Bates. I swear; the place hasn’t aged in over 100 years.”
“The booths are all still original,” Ashely said motioning to the wooden booths that have been there since Thomas Café’ first opened their doors. I nodded as I remembered they used to have cushions on the bench. Ashely agreed. “They sure did. They were in such bad shape though. I took them home and washed them and they all but fell apart.”
Kelly spoke up and added, “Earnest still tries to follow the same menu from when he bought the place which is almost the same menu the original owners made up. Of course, one or two things have changed or been taken off but basically, it’s the same menu.”
“I noticed the gumbo and the jambalaya are not there anymore,” I stated as I wrote some notes.
“That’s because Earnest would make up a big batch of it and then have to throw most of it out at the end of the day,” Ashley explained.
“What is the bestselling thing on the menu?” I asked.
“Well, Earnest’s number one concern above all is customer satisfaction so he kept a lot of the recipes like the homemade crab cake sandwich; that’s a top seller. The shrimp and grits and fried green tomatoes are another.”
“The lunch menu,” Kelly added. “We do a daily special every day. Monday we always have fried chicken and on Thursdays, we have turkey and dressing.”
Nodding in agreement, Ashley added, “And Fridays are always fried flounder. That’s a big hit with the customers.”
I asked about an interesting story either of them could share. Both of them looked at one another and shrugged. “Is it haunted?” I asked. “Maybe we could do another story for Halloween.”
Ashely and Kelly offered a laugh and then both denied, “No, it’s not haunted. There are no ghosts here that we’re aware of and Beth and I have been here seven years,” said Kelly.
“I’ve been here eight.”
I wrote some more notes and then asked, “So nothing exciting ever happens here? What about the lawyer’s table?” I was referring to the back table. All of the locals know, in the morning time, that is where all the lawyers and judges sit.
“They still meet there,” Ashly answered with a shrug and then pointed at the front table by the large restaurant window where costumer’s can always find the daily special menu as they pass by. “If their table is occupied, they will sometimes move up here.”
“The car crash,” Kelly said. “Remember two or three years ago, the car that drove through the window?”
“Was anyone hurt?”
Both women denied anyone was hurt in the car accident. “The table was full of tourists, too, no locals,” Ashley said of the accident. “We had to close for the rest of the day, but Earnest was back up the next.”
As we brought an end to our meeting, I asked about Beth who had some surgery done. I was told she would be back (the following week) hopping around. “She’s going crazy sitting at home,” Ashely said of her co-worker’s convalescent period.
While I sit and write about one of my favorite eateries, I think about many of the locals who come here for breakfast and lunch; Phil Brady, Penny Thomas Barbour, Eliza Hilliard and let’s not forget myself. This is truly a place taken out of time. I would say Thomas’ Café is one of the few places in Georgetown that maintains their nostalgia.
Thomas’ Café is opened Monday through Saturday. They open at 7:00 am and close at 2:00 pm with the exception of Saturday. They close at 12:00 (noon) on Saturdays and serve only breakfast. Whether it is homemade southern-style cooking you want or you just want to stop in for a cold glass of sweet tea and visit the past, Thomas’ Café is the place to be.