Since 1931 4 Way Lunch has been serving meals on the corner of E. Main Street and S. Gilmer Street in downtown Cartersville, GA. The squat red and white building is a throwback to the lunch counters of the 1930s and 40s and I was excited about paying it a visit while I was in the area on business.
I parked in a small lot behind the restaurant and made my way to the front door. Eight stools lined the counter. The one furthest from the door was open. I walked past the backs of men busily eating biscuits and gravy while sipping on black coffee. The lone waitress clad in a bright red apron cheerfully greeted me. Her Southern drawl was thick and pleasant on the ears. She poured me a cup of coffee in a 4 Way Lunch mug and slid it towards me.
I sipped on the strong dark liquid while reading over the simple black and white plastic clad menu. Simple old fashioned breakfast items lined the page and the prices were insanely low. I settled on two eggs with a choice of meat for $4.85. In addition to the standard bacon, sausage, or ham, tenderloin and bologna were available as meat options. I played it safe and asked for bacon. All breakfast plates included grits, toast or biscuits and coffee.
4 Way Lunch is an intimate place. People sit shoulder to shoulder to one another, and conversation with a local is foregone conclusion. As meals were finished, and bills paid, the patrons departed and their spots were taken by another hungry customer. The food was cooked a few feet away on a griddle by a friendly man with a large mustache and a sense of humor. Eggs were fried, pancakes flipped, and sausages pressed. The air was full of conversation of local politics, where the fish were biting, and the sound of sizzling grease.
Two fried eggs, bacon, grits and a warm biscuit on the side completed the meal. Everything was served at the proper temperature and cooked as I ordered. The food was honest, simple, and filling. I paid my bill and received several have a good days on my way out the black screen door that made dully thumped as its spring pulled it back into position.
Walking to my car along Gilmer Street I passed a side door and observed a relic from segregation. Four mismatched stools with a view of a second kitchen area fronted a chipped counter. They were unoccupied. I snapped a picture and closed the door.
4 Way Lunch is well worth a visit for a glimpse of local color while in Cartersville. The restaurant is open Monday – Friday from 5:30 am – 3 pm. Breakfast is served until 10 am with lunch items available until close. 4 Way Lunch is old school as it only accepts cash, does not have an online presence, or a telephone.
Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating: