Farm 255

(Photo/Sean Taylor)

One of Athens’ favorite sustainable living staples, Farm 255, is closing its doors after eight years in the Classic City.

While there are many reasons businesses choose to leave downtown, owners of Farm 255 insist time and convenience are the sole driving forces behind the decision to close.

“Over the past few years, Farm 255's partners moved away from Athens and on to other opportunities in food and agriculture,” said Kate Venugopal, one of Farm 255’s several co-owners. “We felt the location could be better utilized as a community asset if operated by a local community member.”

The decision to close the Washington Street restaurant, which specialized in organic, farm-fresh ingredients that were the polar opposite of the genetically-modified and mass-produced additives which have become so rampant in the American diet, was not an easy one.

“Given that Farm 255 had become such a mainstay in the community, it was not an easy decision, and one that required many months of deliberation,” Venugopal said.

As with all businesses, Farm 255 experienced its fair share of ups and downs in its eight years of operation.

“One of the greatest challenges of running a restaurant is maintaining consistency,” Venugopal said. “We have been fortunate to have an amazing staff over the years to help achieve this.”

Good memories are equally as vivid for Farm 255’s former staff, such as when the restaurant was filled with revelers during the 2006 World Cup.

“The restaurant was packed wall-to-wall and had a great energy,” Venugopal said.

The co-owners of Farm 255 have already moved on to other opportunities and other zip codes.

Farmer Jason Mann is still leading development of Farm Burger Enterprises and lives in San Diego. Olivia Sargeant was recently married and splits her time between California and Italy, working as a consultant for food and farming businesses. Venugopal works for the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and currently resides in San Francisco. Jerid Grandinetti works for Dunkin' Brands International and lives outside of Boston.

The Washington Street location will henceforth be operated by Juan and Vanessa Molina, owners and operators of Broad Street Coffee. Despite rumors to the contrary, Venugopal insists the deal brokered between Farm 255 and the Molinas was a standard transaction without issue.

“We worked through negotiations with Broad Street Coffee for several weeks to reach an arrangement that was suitable for all parties involved,” Venugopal said. “As with most real estate deals, there were many details to take into account.”

Farm 255's final day of operation will be July 19.

“We bought the assets for Farm 255,” Vanessa Molina said, adding that Broad Street Coffee will be closing the Broad Street location once the new space is up and running.

The Molinas’ new venue, China Cat Sunflower, will serve the same Vegan fare as the Broad Street location, but will also feature an expanded menu and a Sunday brunch.

China Cat Sunflower will open Aug. 1.

While the closing is unfortunate, the team behind Farm 255 is moving on with the conviction that it was the right choice.

“It’s hard to part with something you created and watched grow up into a thriving business,” Venugopal said, “but ultimately we knew it was the right thing to do for the community.”