By Jane Snyder
Even at three o’clock in the afternoon, which is usually slow time for restaurants, at 180°F Café groups of friends sit around mismatched tables laughing and chitchatting while sipping on their bubble teas. Scott Guo, the owner of 180°F Café, along with John Tang, the manager and head of public relations, strive to create an authentic and welcoming experience for college students and Athens locals in this “hole-in-the-wall” Taiwanese café.
Located on the intersection of West Broad Street and Finley Street, 180°F Café has become increasingly well known for their bubble teas, a sweet drink made with iced tea, sweetened milk or other flavorings, and tapioca pearls. But the café differs from other bubble tea cafés because of its kitchen aspect. Not only can customers come in for a refreshing drink, but they can also eat authentic Taiwanese dishes. 180°F Café opened last October to not only serve bubble tea, but also to expose Athens locals to foods they have never tried before such as Taiwanese chicken nuggets and fried Thai fish cake.
Colin Wahl, a sophomore from Alpharetta says, “I was not familiar with this type of food before I went to 180°F Café, and, being a picky eater, I was skeptical if I would like the food. However, the owner was very helpful in helping me pick something I would like, and the food and bubble tea ended up being great.”
Scott Guo brings more than 30 years of experience as a chef to 180°F Café. He previously owned several large restaurants throughout the southeast, but the size of the restaurants made them difficult for him to manage, especially in the bad economy. “Because of the economy, I could not do any good. Also the restaurant was huge, more than 5,000 square feet, which caused a lot of problems,” Guo says.
After taking a break from the restaurant business, Guo visited Athens and was inspired to fuse the idea of a bubble tea café and Taiwanese cuisine. With a smaller location and a simpler menu, Guo is able to prepare and cook all of the food himself while still overseeing his employees.
Unlike other bubble tea cafés, 180°F Café does not use machinery to make the bubble teas, and instead makes every drink by hand.
“We started as a bubble tea restaurant from nothing. We just bought cups, bought materials, and then just started making bubble tea,” Tang says.
In less than a year, 180°F Café has acquired a steady flow of loyal customers, who are attracted to the helpful customer service, flavorful bubble teas and small-scale management. Guo estimates that around sixty percent of his customers are consistent.
While small in location, 180°F Café has become a huge hang out spot for students and locals. “There are a lot of people who like to come here to hang out with their friends and a lot of times during the weekend they sit from opening to closing,” Tang says.
From the chalkboard menu to Guo working the kitchen and the cash register, the small-scale of the café is really what makes it so special.
“I think the small-scale atmosphere is the best part about the restaurant. Every drink is made specifically for you,” Tang says. “We go from start to finish. Pouring the tea all the way to when we shake it and pour it out. Everything is made just for the customer.”
What 180°F Café lacks in space, it makes up for in authentic food and great service. The café has become a favorite for many in the Athens community. Guo and Tang aim to continue to improve and expand 180°F Café while still maintaining the cozy atmosphere their customers love.
By Emily Haney
A group of people stand in a line in front of the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude’s cart waiting to make their selection. With choices ranging from classic popsicles and ice cream bars to the new Italian ice variety, coming to a final decision can be difficult. The entrepreneur behind the counter of the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude, Victor ‘Beau’ Shell, can help you out with the decision if needed as he is a self-proclaimed ice cream enthusiast.
Beau is CEO and owner of the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude, as well as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, which is an organization for business owners. On top of that, he is also an elementary school student. For five years, Beau and his family have traveled around the Athens-Clarke Community and Georgia selling ice cream at festivals, sorority events and anything else that interests Beau. “It’s all about how he wants to sell, what he wants to sell and when he wants to sell,” says Vickie Shell, business manager and mom of Beau, who is currently a schoolteacher and also a UGA alumna. “Oftentimes he’s the one reminding us to book more events.” In total the family has been to 200 events with Beau attending all of them.
The Shell family’s ice cream journey began when Beau turned eight years old. For his birthday, he asked his family for an ice cream cart. He brought up wanting an ice cream cart so many times, his parents decided to make his dream a reality. “I wanted to be able to make my own money that way I could buy my own toys, give back and have more privileges,” says Beau Shell, an 11-year-old fifth grader from Athens. With a little money to invest in a cart, Beau’s parents were able to find a family friend who could rig a cooler to a cart. From that point on, the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude was born. However, the name came before the business.
Beau has always loved ice cream. Between the ages of four and six, Beau would eat ice cream every day, always asking his mom to stop at the store for some. “The dentist told me popsicles were good for me since they don’t get stuck in your teeth like ice cream, but ice cream has milk in it, so it’s healthy too,” Beau says. Today when Beau eats ice cream, he’s sampling his product. Beau doesn’t like to pick favorites. He eats a different type of ice cream each day.
At first, booking events proved to be challenging. Beau and his mother called several potential events, before they were able to schedule one. As the word got out about the Lil’ Ice Cream Dude, more people began to reach out to the Shell Family. The more events the business was able to book, the faster Beau started to grow out of his old ice cream cart. In order to get a bigger cart to fit his growing business, Beau started a crowd fundraiser. The money went towards building “The Popsicle,” named because it would make business pop.
Part of the funds earned from ice cream sales go towards charity. Two years ago, the Shell Family got involved with UGA Miracle. Beau wanted to give back to the hospital that helped save his life when he got pneumonia. Initially his parents weren’t sure if Beau would return to his ice cream business after his illness, but as soon as Beau was out of the hospital, he was back with his cart. This year, Beau donated $2,000 of his sales to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “Beau works hard, beyond anything we imagined,” says Vickie Shell. “UGA Miracle is one of the events where Beau gets to let loose a little. This year he played football with some of the other kids.”
Beau is already thinking of future plans for his ice cream business and wants to hire young entrepreneurs to sell ice cream out of ice cream trucks. He also hopes to attend Morehouse College and mix business with sports. When Beau’s not selling ice cream, you can find him playing soccer or basketball. An ice cream empire could be in his future, but today he’s still a kid who enjoys sports and playing with friends.
By Danielle Profita
Straight from the rolling hills of Ecuador, Condor Chocolates has taken Athens by storm. This local gem is a beautiful, quaint stop for a quick bite of chocolate goodness and a gorgeous cup of coffee. Walking into the shop is akin to a sensational chocolate overload. It smells heavenly, and everything looks amazing. Condor Chocolates is the product of Nick and Peter Dale’s South American roots, an adventurous love story and the dream to bring a taste of Ecuador to Athens, their birthplace.
This story begins on a bus in Ecuador. Their dad met their mom while he was backpacking; she was a local in the town. It was love at first sight. On their honeymoon, the newlyweds packed up and decided to move to Athens. As kids, Nick and Peter treasured their summers in Ecuador with family. They loved the beach, the food and – not surprisingly – the chocolate.
“Condor Chocolates is our homage to the birthplace of our mother, a testament to the sense of adventure that brought our Dad to her and a celebration of Ecuador, home of the finest cacao in the world,” Nick says.
Located in the historic Five Points neighborhood of Athens, Condor Chocolates produces and sells bean-to-bar chocolate and a variety of other confections. Currently, in-house, Condor Chocolates produce 9-12 types of truffles each day, brownies, macaroons, English toffee, biscotti and gelato. To wash it all down, there is a full espresso bar, cappuccinos, Americanos, iced mochas, hot chocolate and sipping chocolate. However, if you're not in the mood for chocolate or coffee, they also have a variety of delicious spindrift sodas. The shop is both a chocolate factory and a café, so feel free to stop in for a smell, a taste or a view of fresh chocolate crafting every day!
In a few weeks Condor Chocolates will be expanding their business by opening up their first factory on Chase Street in Athens. The factory will facilitate in assisting with in-house production. The factory has been in the works since the fall of 2015. Construction will be finished by the beginning of May and production should start soon after. With this increase in production, Condor Chocolates primarily plans to expand across the Southeast region. Eventually, Nick and Peter of Condor Chocolates hope to share their story across the United States. Their dream is to distribute their bean-to-bar chocolates to people across the world and continue to pay homage to their South American roots with mouth-watering chocolates.
Chai Chocolate Truffle: “This truffle was chai-riffic,” says Alex Briner, a senior management major from Calhoun.
Sipping Chocolate: Dark, deep and luxuriously rich. Condor’s sipping chocolate is served warm in an espresso-sized cup. This thick and creamy serving of sipping chocolate is enough to warm your heart and your stomach. So tasty!
Iced Mocha: Cold, refreshing, chocolaty and full of coffee straight from Ecuadorian beans, Condor’s iced mocha is delicious. “I couldn’t finish it in one sitting because it was so rich,” says Lindsey Broscher, a junior public relations major from Suwanee.
Spindrift Sparkling Soda: “This ginger beer soda is amazing – it’s ginger just like me. It’s sugary, but not too sweet,” says Christine Rueger, a junior communications sciences and disorders major from Sarasota, Florida.
Go and check it out!
Address: Condor Chocolates
1658 S Lumpkin St
Athens, GA 30606
Hours: Monday: Closed for chocolate production
Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
By Ashton Pike
We spend our days navigating short cuts to class, our nights taste-testing local restaurants and our weekends discovering what will become our new favorite find. As semesters pass one by one, Athens transforms from a college town to a home away from home. Eventually we can say we’ve (finally) deciphered the UGA bus route, developed our list of favorite local spots and most importantly – we’ve singled out the best bakeries and cafés for when we’re in need of some comfort food. Midterms, papers and internships can sometimes get the best of our emotional and mental states, but luckily we’ve got these tasty treats to rely on when the stress becomes too much to handle.
When Insomnia Cookies opened their first Georgia location in downtown Athens in 2013, every cookie lover’s day got a little sweeter. Founder Seth Berkowitz began the late-night cookie delivery business on his own campus at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 and has continued to open bakeries throughout the east near college campuses, making students in desperate need of a study break immensely happy. Lexie Harrison, a junior psychology major from Albany, says, “My go-to at Insomnia is the Snickerdoodle cookie. My grandmother makes them for me when I’m back home, but now I can get them here in Athens, too!” The warm, gooey cookies melt in your mouth and satisfy your taste buds. The best part? You can get two delicious cookies with one $5 bill. With traditional and deluxe flavors to choose from, you’ll be scheduling a study break probably sooner than you should. But hey, no regrets.
Gigi is a well-known name around Athens, and one bite into her gourmet cupcakes will explain it all. Since its opening in Nashville in 2008, Gigi’s Cupcakes has become a well renowned bakery specializing in homemade, mouthwatering cupcakes. Within its first five years in business, Gigi’s Cupcakes earned an estimated $43 billion in sales, and since then, the uniquely decorated cupcakes have won over the hearts and wallets of college students with numerous delicacies under $5. With two local shops in Athens and multiple bakeries throughout eight cities in Georgia, you can pick up a cupcake from Gigi’s near your hometown as well as your home away from home.
Sometimes the best finds are the ones you don’t expect. Ike and Jane has more to offer the Athens community than just great coffee and delicious bagels. Ask to see the selection of their specialty donuts, and you will not be disappointed with the menu. John Paul Van Wert, a junior advertising major from Peachtree City, says, “I was going for brunch at Ike and Jane one day, and then while I was ordering, the Bacon Peanut Butter donut caught my eye, and it seemed too cool not to try. So I did, and to put it simply, it was awesome!” From creative concoctions such as the Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Oreo Cookie donuts to more traditional choices like their famous Red Velvet donut, the local bakery hires incredible “donut magicians” to craft the best sweet treats.
If cookies, donuts and cupcakes don’t quite hit the spot, and you’re looking for something a little more outside the box, Bee’s Knees Bakery has a variety of bite-sized desserts ready for your sweet tooth. From adorable cake pops ($1.50) to classic French macaroons ($2.00), the local sweet spot offers inexpensive delicacies when traditional desserts don’t quite cut it. Co-owner Bradley Graham says, “My fiancé, Jaime, and I bought Bee’s Knees in January of this year, and I would have to say our most popular bite sized treat would be our petit fours [$2.00]. They’re really yummy, and it’s something you can’t find anywhere else in town! Our gooey bars are also a big hit – they come in 6 different flavors!”
As Athens becomes our home away from home for 10 months out of the year, it’s a comforting feeling to find these local spots to call our own. They become our go-to for a study break, comfort food or just because. Though they make up only a small portion of the expansive and diverse restaurant and café scene in the classic city, these Athens icons provide the perfect sweet treats for an even sweeter price. Delicious desserts and low prices? You don’t have to tell us twice!