Staff members Charlette Canteen, Dontavious Little, Gloria Freeman, Katherine Little, Emily Carter and Katie Brown pose for a photo on their last day. Photo by Jesse Walker

Staff members Charlette Canteen, Dontavious Little, Gloria Freeman, Katherine Little, Emily Carter and Katie Brown pose for a photo on their last day. Photo by Jesse Walker

Former staffer shares memories

I had the joy of working for the Cunningham family at Ye Olde Colonial while in high school and college. My fondest memories are about the people I had the opportunity to meet during my time at the restaurant. We had lots of visitors to Madison come in and eat with us. Some were en route to the Masters, visiting for the Tour of Homes or stopping by for a pre-game meal before a UGA football game, but many just wanted to visit “the town Sherman refused to burn” and get a taste of the South. It was always so funny to me to have a curious visitor from another part of the country come in and ask questions about the foods I’d eaten my whole life. Many from up north had never heard of grits, turnip greens, hominy or okra. Once I had someone come in and ask to try “a grit.” I had to explain that it would be hard to try “a grit” but that I’d be glad to bring her a bowl of grits to try one of the very best foods ever!

As much as I enjoyed sharing the history of our town with visitors and educating them about good southern food, my favorite customers were the locals. We had “regulars” like Theresa Newton,  Clayton Spears and Junior Rogers who came in just about every day and always had a story to share. I remember one family that came in every Wednesday night before church and a dad who brought his daughter for breakfast every Saturday morning. Every time I worked at the restaurant, I got to visit with people from our community and work with a great group of folks.

I just can’t believe the restaurant is closing. It has been a fixture in Madison my entire life. I guess I assumed it would always be there with Jimmy to welcome me when I walked in the door. I would like to thank the Cunningham family for what they have meant to me and to our town over the years. Best wishes to each of you in the future!
–Lara Goodman Still, Rutledge
Via e-mail

Remembering when Al Gore made a stop

I was a trooper stationed here from 1983 to 1993. Sgt Lamar Hawkins was my boss at the time. I went to Macon and picked up a motorcade at a high school there where Gore was speaking. He was making a tour of Georgia. A secret service agent jumped in the front seat of my car and said lets go to Ye Olde Colonial, people waiting. (He knew the way almost as good as me.) We drove up 441 in a motorcade, not unlike a funeral possession, and on the way Gore was in the secret service limo being interviewed by yall, the media. When we got to a passing lane on 441 agent told me to stop and one reporter jumped out of the limo and another jumped in. Couldn’t tell if it was Patrick… anyway when we got to Madison we circled the square and pulled up in front of Ye Olde and were met by Sheriff Pritchett. Sen. Gore was led in to meet with local supporters… I wasn’t invited in (if I had I would have told him to try the chicken or pork chops). A trooper from Athens took my place and the motorcade went on to a speaking event at UGA. Not my last encounter with Mr. Gore after he won and became VP and I transferred to Atlanta I helped many more times with his motorcades the next several years, really nice guy! Not only was the food great at Ye Olde, the Cunninghams always supported local law enforcement, EMS and other emergency agencies. I always heard a way to tell if the food was good if from out of town was to look and see when the police cars or other emergency vehicles were parked to eat.
–Rodney Little, Madison
Via Facebook

It’s not Ye Olde Colonial, it’s Joe’s!

Well, first of all… if you’ve lived in Madison any time at all, then you have never called it Ye Olde Colonial! Oh, no!! The correct name for the restaurant is “Joe’s!” Thanks to the late Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Jimmy for serving Madison for so many years!
– Bethany Lee Carter, Madison
Via Facebook

Restaurant functioned as a second home

Ye Olde Colonial was not only a restaurant, it was my second home for over 12 years. I started working there when I was 16 and ended at the age of 28. Even after I started teaching, I could not bring myself to quit. It was only a month before I had my twin girls that I had to say good-bye. My husband worked there a few years before me, and we met there. We had only hoped that Ye Olde would be their first job, but as they say “all good things must come to an end”.

Throughout the years, Mr. Jimmy kept the restaurant alive even through the roughest times. We watched many restaurants come and go, but Ye Olde Colonial stayed strong. I always felt proud to be apart of that. For any business to stay open and in the same family for over 60 years is nothing less than remarkable.

If the walls could talk, the stories could fill a book! I have met my fair share of interesting customers including a couple from “the North” that wanted to know why we didn’t serve them wearing Antebellum dresses! However, the regulars made working there so unique and they became a second family. Ye Olde would not have been the same without them. It embodied small town America.
I stayed at the restaurant for so many years for one main reason, Mr. Jimmy. He was not only my boss, but a friend, advisor and second father to me. He is one of the most generous, caring and humble individuals that I have ever met. Words cannot describe my gratitude for everything he has done for me and my family over the years. I feel honored to have worked at Ye Olde Colonial for so many years and I will cherish those memories forever.
– Danielle Stapp Bruce, Madison
Via e-mail

For more photos from Ye Olde’s last day, click here.