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people + places | eats + things
I’ve been procrastinating writing this for a full week now. It’s been A Long Week. A long two weeks, really. Two Thursdays ago I was helping set up a catering event for one of my restaurant partners and the event hosts brought in extra hand sanitizer to have in the banquet room. The next day all Hell broke loose and that’s about the time I started losing track of days.
Last Thursday was my birthday, and it was the strangest birthday I’ve ever … celebrated. I was panicking about my friends who were un- or under-employed now because of COVID-19. I was worried for the newest restaurant I do a bit of work with — they chose to close their doors due to the uncertainty. I was worried for my hair salon that I do occasional photography and graphics for, as they, too, shut down for the safety of their team and customers. I was worried, a little bit, for me too: What happens if my main restaurant accounts close?
So my 31st birthday was one I’d rather pretend not happened at all. And in times of stress, I tend to stress-eat. Not over-eat, per se, but when I’m stressed I specifically want comfort food. That’s something different to every person, but to me … it’s barbeque and French fries. Y’all knowI can eat some barbeque. And there’s only one place in Athens that has my comfort-style of sauce-drenched pulled pork on a fluffy white bread bun that’s served up with a side of hot, salty crinkly fries.
I’m talkin’ Butt Hutt, fam.
My history with Butt Hutt takes us back almost a decade, when this little BBQ shack opened up across the street from The Red & Black, where I basically lived my junior and senior years of college. When I wasn’t at a sorority event, I was there. In my cubicle. Usually writing or doing homework, or often bugging my co-workers and shaking the vending machine in the hopes it was lying about all the Mr. Pibb being gone … again.
We ate at Butt Hutt a lot. Jimmy John’s, my other now-comfort craving, was right next door. Those were the places we frequented, but Butt Hutt was locally owned and had an even bigger special place in my heart. I remember illegally running across Baxter Street with a paper bag of pulled pork in one hand and a giant Styrofoam cup of sweet tea in the other. I’ll never forget when Daniel, Carey (my editors at the time) and I went together and learned they changed their fries, which was a travesty they later fixed.
When I moved to Macon and later Atlanta and Sandy Springs, Butt Hutt was a constant food source I missed. Maybe it was so many memories made there; maybe it was the ‘que. But “the Hutt” was my Athens comfort food.
These are strange, scary times. I don’t want to induce a panic and make folks think they need more toilet paper, but it’s a fact. Every single one of us faces uncertainty in some way or another, and if you already battle any sort of anxiety or mental sh*t it’s even worse. Add to that owning your own business and having not only your livelihood, but the lives and financial circumstances of your employees in your hands … hot damn, y’all.
So it’s up to us. Those of us able to have an income still, we are the ones on whom it falls to do everything we can to lift up our small businesses. I encourage you to donate to fundraisers, community funds and nonprofits if you are able. Shop your favorite boutiques online. Purchase a gift certificate that you can redeem for your next hair appointment or brow wax. Find out which of your favorite places offer delivery or to-go services.
Whatever you can do, do it local. Support these small businesses and restaurants now, because Lord knows I’m going to need some fun places to go eat at and write about when all this is said and done.