Athens has seen a number of local businesses close over the past several months. Places like The Falls, El Zarco, Wings Over Athens, KEBA, The Pouch and Ike & Jane have all shut down. As these restaurants have moved out, bigger corporate chains have moved in, prompting some local concerns that Athens could lose its distinctive charm. The Red & Black decided to ask University of Georgia students how they feel about the recent restaurant closures.
Ethan Jennings is a sophomore electrical engineering major.
“I do like the local Athens things. I really like going downtown to eat and just kind of wandering around and picking a restaurant that seems cool to me. So, I think I would prefer having a lot of local, unique restaurants rather than just going downtown and seeing only Chick-fil-A and only McDonald’s.”
Lauryn Waters is a junior human development and family science major.
“I think it is sad because part of what makes Athens charming and different is being taken away … If that happens to all the local businesses, then you could literally find anything here that you could find anywhere else … My only hangup or hesitance … Is that there are no close grocery stores within walking distance or biking distance from campus, so you have to drive to get to a grocery store. And so that would be really convenient to be able to buy things at Target like food.”
Nicole Garcia Sanchez is a sophomore public relations major.
“I loved The Pouch because they had the best fish and chips in Athens, and now it’s closed. And now there’s not many fish and chips places in Athens. Yeah, I think it was nice to have local businesses.”
Sydney Sileno is a sophomore cell biology and genetics double major.
“I like small businesses, especially when it comes to the downtown area of Athens. It reminds me a lot of my hometown [Red Bank, New Jersey] … We have a lot of very similar types of restaurants and little boutiques and stuff like that. And I do think it makes the downtown area special and something distinctive to the town. I definitely utilize big chains just because, as a college student, [they tend] to be cheaper and [have] everything all at once … But I like that they’re further away. I don’t feel like they should be a part of the distinctive city.”