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!