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Bakery seeks to honor longtime Social Circle store owner with new location
Kelley Johnston
From left, Zac Johnston and mother, Kelley Johnston, stand inside the former Claude T. Wiley General Store at 109 Cherokee Road in downtown Social Circle earlier this year before they began remodeling it into their newest location of Bread and Butter Bakery & Cafe. (Special Photo | Kelley Johnston)

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Kelley Johnston said she hadn’t planned to open another location of her seven-year-old bakery and coffee shop outside Newton County — until a spot meaningful to her family opened up in downtown Social Circle.

Johnston recently announced she was expanding her Covington-based Bread and Butter Bakery & Cafe concept to a retail space that operated as a general store for the south Walton County town for almost a century.

She said she is now hiring for the new location at 109 Cherokee Road by the end of this month.

It will be the third location of Bread and Butter following its original Monticello Street bakery and drive-through location on U.S. Hwy. 278 — both in Covington.

The 2,000-square-foot space is at the corner of South Cherokee Road and West Hightower Trail in Social Circle and operated as the Claude T. Wiley Co. General Store through most of the 20th century and first part of the 21st.

Kelley Johnston is related to Claude T. Wiley and his family. Her father, the late Rev. Wiley Stephens, was named for the Wiley family that operated a general store in the same location for 95 years. 

Claude T. Wiley’s General Store sold the items of daily life to residents of Social Circle and the surrounding communities from 1919 to 2014 — surviving the Great Depression of the 1930s and the numerous changes that came to the American retail industry in the latter part of the 20th century. 

Upon its closing in late 2014, the mayor of Social Circle presented a plaque to Elizabeth Wiley, Dorothy Wiley Parker and Fred Wiley “in honor of their standing in the community and the store’s role in the history of the town,” according to a story in The Covington News.

Through the years it was occupied by other businesses, including Sacred Grounds Corner Cafe, but kept the wording in gold lettering on a front window that bore the name of “Claude T. Wiley Co. General Store.” 

Kelley Johnston said she planned to keep that lettering on the front window in homage to her family’s place in Social Circle business history.

She said it was “very important” to her that she continue a family tradition — begun by Claude T. Wiley — of operating a business at the corner of Cherokee and Hightower.

“I’m excited about honoring him,” she said.

Bread and Butter began as a side baking business for Johnston and her husband, Ronnie, in 2013 while they owned and operated the popular Mystic Grill on the north side of the Covington Square. 

She later decided to concentrate totally on baking and stopped operating the restaurant before opening Bread and Butter on the Square’s west side in 2016. Johnston later added a drive-through location on U.S. Hwy. 278 featuring an abbreviated version of its menu in early 2021.

The new location will feature the same down-sized version of her original location’s menu and feature such items as breakfast croissants and bagels, a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, desserts, coffees and more.

Amber McKibben, Social Circle’s downtown director, also serves as the staff person for the Social Circle Main Street Commission and the Social Circle Downtown Development Authority.

She said adding a locally owned business like Bread and Butter helps keep the downtown area vibrant and thriving.

“Businesses are the heart of any downtown, and we are very excited to have Bread and Butter joining in downtown Social Circle,” she said. 

“Having established businesses move here is a wonderful thing because they bring the people who are loyal customers to their business and that also helps the other businesses, because the patrons may see a store they have never visited and make an effort to check it out,” McKibben said.  

She also said successful businesses and owners willing to be plugged in to the community are a key component of a vibrant and thriving downtown.

In addition, having spaces filled means “there are places to go and things to do” in the downtown area, she noted. 

“Social Circle citizens can stay local and shop local without having to go another town over,” she said. “Supporting local businesses is key to helping them be successful and stay in those spaces for years.”

McKibben also noted Kelley Johnston and son Zac, a partner in the business, have “jumped right in here in Social Circle” by attending a merchants association meeting and participating in the town’s annual Chocolate Crawl.

“(The Johnstons) have been all in from day one and their business isn’t even open yet,” McKibben said. “They are going to be a wonderful addition to Downtown.” 

Kelley Johnston said she has never purposely chosen any of her Bread and Butter locations because they were located in a city’s historic downtown area.

“It just worked out that way,” she said.

Rather, Johnston said she has always tried to make the most impact in a community wherever she is located.

“It’s just important to get involved,” she said.