Fill “Er Up!

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Watching the numbers tick by as you fill up the tank, your stomach starts to rumble.

by Frank Reddy

If only there was somewhere to get a bite. Nothing around except this gas station and…wait a minute! Commuters could do worse than find themselves at one of these eateries located inside or beside gas stations. We picked some good restaurants that fit the bill.

We also highlighted two local establishments located in former service stations of yesteryear.

Tipsy Pig
Restaurant owners Terry and Dale Lee are happy to get the business of those who amble into the Shell station at the corner of Five Forks Trickum and Oak Road for a pack of smokes or a candy bar. “They bring us business, and we bring them business,” Terry says. “It”s a mutually beneficial relationship.” Chip Mautz of Dacula was one of those unsuspecting gas station clients who came inside the store one day for a pack of gum. Once he caught the scent of fresh-cooked “cue, still steaming from the smoker, he became a card-carrying Tipsy Pig enthusiast. The most important factor in the establishment”s success? “It”s good, it”s fresh, and the service is hard to beat,” Chip says.

Terry says it”s customers like Chip who have made Tipsy Pig a success. “Word of mouth built this place,” Terry says. “But without consistently good food, these folks wouldn”t keep coming back like they do.”

Local Republic
Local Republic is housed in a former service station and in our book, that fills the bill. Located on the historic square on Lawrenceville”s square, the eatery offers a farm-to-table approach to dining. Owner Ben Bailey opened the restaurant in 2011, seeking a unique spot to serve local and regional ingredients and craft beers. He emphasizes the importance of honesty and transparency with his customers. The menu changes from day-to-day. One might find pimento cheese-smothered burgers one afternoon and fish tacos on another. Pork cheeks and tamale might grace the menu as well as Maple leaf duck breast and ginger chicken. Local Republic “was born because we craved something different. Something more. Something better than the ubiquitous suburban fast food and me-too chain options. We were looking for a come-as-you-are kind of place that served hard-to-find craft beers and great wines. A place that served only the freshest regionally and locally sourced ingredients.”

Dicky Parks, owner of Dicky Doo”s Diner

Dicky Doo”s Diner
How about a steaming plate of pulled pork and a signature side item like mac and cheese, fried okra, or butter beans? Look no further than Dicky Doo”s, a family-style restaurant that opened nearly five years ago beside the Chevron at 2700 Lawrenceville Hwy. Owner Dicky Parks says some folks prefer a hole-in-the-wall type restaurant like his. “We”ve got a lot of return customers who love this location,” says Parks, who took time out to talk on a recent afternoon, excusing himself from friends and a helping of his own fare. “Then, we”ve got other customers who happen to be getting gas and they see the “B-B-Q” sign.”

Other offerings include All Beef Scooter Dogs, Brunswick Stew and a daily special like fried catfish, meatloaf, or pork chops. And you thought you were just getting $20 on Pump 10. This worked out just fine.

Leon”s Full Service
The owners of this Decatur restaurant hearken back to a time when you pulled up to a gas station and “immediately about 4 people would descend upon your vehicle with smiles. They would check your oil, check your tire pressure. Clean your windows, fill your tank and above all ask you how you are doing and what else they could do for you. They meant it. Full service.” The eatery at 131 E Ponce De Leon Ave., Decatur, aims to do just that. Leon”s Full Service offers snacks, cheese, pub frites, salads, sandwiches, a host of daily main dishes, sides, desserts, and gluten-free options.

Rico”s World Kitchen Owner Rico Cunnington and wife, Katie

Rico”s World Kitchen
It”s not hard to notice the history of the building where the owner of Rico”s World Kitchen serves up his southern-style fare. Rico Cunnington says the former Pure Station in downtown historic Buford (built in the 1950s) adds a touch of character to his food, which already has a flair all its own: from fried green tomato salad to sweet potato chips and hashbrown casserole, from chicharrones and Pacific Rim Crabcakes to chicken Cuban sandwiches. Rico says being housed in a former service station “is just part of the charm.”

“We used to be at a different location, and we moved here about four years ago,” he says. “Being in downtown Buford has been wonderful. And we”re lucky to be able to be a part of this city”s history by utilizing this space.”

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