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Posted: December 16, 2011 12:30 a.m.

New café comes to Porterdale

By Douglas Moser/

After nearly 20 years working as a skin care specialist, Joy Patterson decided it was time for a change. Well, so to speak.

Certain trades and professions just run in a family's blood. For some, it is woodworking, for some it is law, others it's the military. Restaurants run in Patterson's family.

She has years of experience helping her mother in family restaurants, her brother opened a restaurant in Atlanta and an aunt and an uncle own a restaurant and a cafe respectively in West Virginia.

Two weeks ago today, Patterson opened Porterdale Perk and Café, a coffee shop and café on Broad Street in the Cotton Mill retail space next to the Porterdale Mill Lofts.

"I said I wasn't going to do anything with restaurants ever," Patterson said Wednesday morning, sitting in her new café.

Porterdale Perk offers premium in-season coffee from Counter Culture as its house blend and can make cappuccinos and lattes as well.

The menu includes homemade soups, sandwiches from tuna and chicken salad to Reuben and turkey paninis, to pizza and breakfast sandwiches. In the spring, Patterson said the menu would change with the season, bringing on lighter soups, fruit and fresh local vegetables from the farmer's market across the street.

"As many things as we can do homemade, we will do," she said.

The café is set up with comfort in mind, with free Wi-Fi and cushioned benches, but she moved away from the "living space" arrangement of the prior occupant, the bookstore and coffee shop Tattersall's.

"When I think of a coffee shop, I think of something comfortable," Patterson said.

All the restaurant experience and family tradition, as well as the business experience gained from years of helping to run the skin care clinic, helped to minimize surprises. But nothing goes exactly as planned.

"You do change some things as you go, but you have to plan," she said.

Her plan is off to a good start, though. Porterdale Perk opened on Dec. 2, the day of Porterdale's Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony. Hundreds of people lined Broad Street, right outside the café, that evening to watch the parade.

"The first day we were open was for the parade. Mom came to visit, and after a while, she was bussing tables and helping out," Patterson said.

The following Thursday, Dec. 8, the city held a tour of historic homes in the little city, including the John Porter House and several apartments in the Lofts. And a unique Christmas carol event, called TubaChristmas because the carols were played by a tuba-only ensemble, attracted dozens of people Sunday afternoon. The events helped Porterdale Perk have a successful first two weeks.

She and her brother scouted out several locations nearby, including in Covington and Social Circle, and decided on Porterdale because of the traffic on Broad Street, the mix of people and the contrast of antique and new, such as the turn-of-the-20th-century textile mill renovated into modern apartments.

Patterson used that contrast in the restaurant as well, serving café sandwiches and coffee in antique dishes. "I love to mix modern and antique," she said.

Besides the antique-modern feel of Porterdale, she said she liked the variety of people in and around the city. "We've had lawyers, people who work for Delta, college students and a Bible study group one Friday," she said.

Of course, it may have influenced her decision that her husband is an officer in the Porterdale Police Department.

Patterson was born in West Virginia and went to high school near Chicago, but followed her parents here after graduation. She has lived in Georgia for 19 years and currently lives with her husband Ricky in Social Circle.

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