There is a lime green building just east of downtown Athens where Weaver D’s has served up soul food for 27 years.
A cookbook, an American Classic award and an R.E.M. album name later, the business and building are up for sale.
Owner Dexter Weaver announced he would sell the restaurant just months after a cry for help to the community.
“I might want to take a year or two off,” he said. “‘Cause I have just really become exhausted in 27 years, you know, doing the same thing. But I would like to take me a nice break or two.”
He said the possibility of running it under new ownership is a winsome one, but he is open to other options.
Weaver called for help in October, when the restaurant was on the brink of closing, and the community came out. A Facebook campaign by one patron drew more than 200 customers into the business on a Friday afternoon, and many Athenians passed through to purchase food, make donations and offer verbal support.
“We had a lot of people coming throughout the day,” Weaver said. “We was open up until around 9 o’ clock every day, you know, because people just still kept coming, and we just served them. We served them on up ‘til the end, ‘til they stopped coming.”
Business picked up for about two weeks, Weaver said, but then slowed again.
“It was just fresh in their minds,” he said. “Some places, I think the people might have forgotten about. Then when they hear something about it, they go, ‘Oh, I haven’t been there in a long time.’ So they just start coming back again.”
But they don’t always keep coming back.
With his restaurant in desperate financial straits once more, selling may be the only choice for Weaver.
Weaver bought the restaurant property from Mingledorff Properties for $175,000 in 2009. The land is now valued at $160,080 and the building at $14,570, according to the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government Board of Tax Assessors.
The business is not yet listed anywhere, but Weaver said interested buyers may contact him.
“I’m going by the spirit with the whole thing,” he said. “But it is for sale.”
However, Weaver said if the business didn’t sell, he would keep running it or consider renting the space to someone else.
Last fall, some community members pointed to Weaver’s five-person staff as an unnecessary financial burden. Weaver, however, disagreed.
“I feel as though we’re not overstaffed,” he said. “We need someone to order fill, we need someone to wash dishes, and we need somebody to prep. I think we running the right crew, you know — if we get rid of somebody, then I think service will suffer.”
Though some customers also complained about the restaurant’s customer service and overall quality — its health score was 81 as of Dec. 13 — Weaver credited the state of the economy for the restaurant’s financial decline.
However, he questioned other factors as well.
“I’m wondering, is this a trending thing?” Weaver said. “I’m sure everybody’s not eating wings and fries now. And I’m sure that we still supposed to eat a balanced diet. So I’m like, ‘Everybody gone to short-order cooking? Wings, fries, pizzas?’ I’m just wondering.”
Though Weaver D’s has long been considered an Athens mainstay, Weaver said many students are unaware of the local landmark.
“A lot of people tell me, ‘I’m in my third year, and I didn’t even know Weaver D’s was around.’ I’m like, ‘Well, where have you been?’” Weaver said. “There’s still more people to reach each day, you know. You’ll be surprised when you think everybody know where you’re at and who you are, and then they tell you they don’t.”