Mom and Mary Mac’s
When mother bought Mary Mac’s, the restaurant only sat 50 people and the kitchen was in the back part of the building on Ponce de Leon in Midtown Atlanta. All the cooks were older African American women who had been taught by their mama’s how to cook.
Mary Mac’s was opened five days a week for lunch and dinner with a three hour break between the two meals and closing at 8pm every night even Fridays.
My first job was drying the silverware when I was six. Mom would pick up my younger sister and I every Friday and take us back to the restaurant for the evening. I can still remember the smells of walking in the back door to the kitchen and seeing all the big pots on the stove. All the dishes were washed by hand- no big dishwashing machines yet- so I was put on silverware duty under the watchful eye of the dishwasher.
A big kitchen apron was wrapped around me and I would get to dry silver until we went home with Mom at 8pm.
Because of Mary Mac’s proximity to downtown and it’s offices, the place filled with business men at lunch. Mary Mac’s already had a reputation for good food when mom bought it but she must have increased the goodness as the restaurant grew in popularity.
Another reason for increased growth was mom’s reputation for moving people in out with efficiency and grace. The business folks knew they could get a delicious meal quickly and be back to the office within their lunch hour. When Mom was calling checks on the steamtable line, she was working the dining room, busing tables, chatting with guests and gracefully moving people along.
When Mom came to scratch your back, you had received the signal it was time to leave so the next guest in line got their turn to eat mom’s delicious southern food.