When I first washed up in Chattooga County back in the summer of 2001, I wasn’t very fond of this place at all. I thought it was boring, old-fashioned, and too small. I was eager to relocate as quickly as possible and wipe this town from my memory. That was my plan for a few years … and then a few years became a few MORE years. Now I’ve been living here for over a decade — driving past the courthouse with the gold dome every day, mingling with the entire population of the town every time I walk through Walmart, and admiring the wooden Sequoyah figure in Dowdy Park when I pass by it. (I’m assuming it’s Sequoyah, but I could be wrong.)
I’ve grown to love this community and appreciate its little quirks. And I’ve become so accustomed to it that I feel overwhelmed when I travel anywhere else. When I drive to Rome, my hometown, I feel like I’m in New York City.
Over the past twelve years, I’ve learned to be very cautious of the small, locally-owned restaurants that spring up in Chattooga County. As soon as I get used to eating at them, they fold up and go out of business a week later … and I’m left feeling disappointed and betrayed. I don’t even bother patronizing those places anymore. Call me bitter if you want.
For a while now, there’s been a buzz about a pizza place called The Crushed Tomato. I heard a lot of great things about it when it opened, so I made up my mind I would never eat there. I didn’t want to set myself up for another heartbreak.
But the restaurant is still around and it seems to be thriving. So I reluctantly decided to check it out a couple of weeks ago.
I’m glad I did. The pizza, first of all, is delicious. (And reasonably priced.) But the thing I like most is the atmosphere. It’s an old building. The walls are made of brick — with no paint — and there are vintage Coca-Cola signs hanging everywhere, along with some other interesting antiques. There’s something magical about it. The people who work there are very friendly too.
I hope it stays in business for a long, long time.