Thursday, January 20, 2011

A review of Colby's Bar and Grill in Woodbine, GA.

Well, I did make it by there yesterday at about 4:10 PM on my way to Brunswick.

First of all, let me say that on the way up, I had turned on my headlights in the overcast afternoon.

Because I exit through the passenger side door via the hydraulic lift rather than the driver's door, if I forget and leave the lights on, I don't get the benefit of the warning buzzer. I left them on when I parked there. When I came back out, 30 or so minutes later, the damned battery was so low I could not get back in or start the van.

Thanks to co-owner Colby for hooking up his truck for a jump start. For some strange reason, the jump powered my hydraulics just fine but was not enough to start my van. Colby said he was having battery problems with his truck. When a call to AAA brought help, it cranked right off with a charge from one of those portable power sources.

Thanks so much to Colby for his help as well as the guy from Marr and Sons (I thinks that's the name - the guys who do the sheriff's repair work) for getting me started with no charge to me or AAA.

Now, having said that, let me tell you about my dining experience.

When I arrived, there were no customers in the restaurant (about 6 in the bar). The very pleasant waitress was also the cook.

The interior has been modified from the last time I was in that building years ago. An interior wall has been added to bifurcate it into a bar (with smoking) on the north end and the restaurant (no smoking) on the south end of the building. There is a connecting door between the two. Apparently, bar patrons can place food orders and have them delivered to the bar side. The restrooms are on the smoky bar side.

Let me set the stage. When you walk (or roll) into the restaurant section, you are immediately struck by the stark sparseness of the place. In retrospect, it was rather like walking into a third world cocina. The walls and ceiling have been painted with a thin coat of stark white paint, much of which was dripped onto the garnet painted concrete floor in golf ball sized splotches all over the restaurant.

The only attempt at decor is a garish collection of faded junk attached to the dividing wall. It looks rather like stuff that Stuckey's might have squirreled away in the attic when it failed to sell to even the tackiest tourists.

The lighting consists of about a dozen, 8 foot long, two bulb fluorescent fixtures. No covers - just the bare bulbs. 25% of the fixtures are burned out or have bad ballasts. One bulb in one fixture is constantly strobing, giving a sort of semi-disco dining experience.

The tables were covered with garnet oil cloths. They were clean.

The menu shows a wide selection of breakfast items, served anytime.

Apparently, at lunch time, three days per week (don't remember which days), they serve a buffet style dinner. That no doubt accounts for the previous comparison to Aunt B's. The empty steam table was about the size of the one in the back room at Aunt B's. Ergo, I can't comment on the buffet.

The menu also has an ambitious selection of appetizers ( a bit pricey) and sandwiches.

I opted for the pork chop sandwich with fries. $6.49, if memory serves me. I asked the waitress/cook if she knew if their pork chop sandwich was anything like the famous pork chop sandwich at Willies' Weenie Wagon is Brunswick.

She said many people ask her that, but she did not know as she had never eaten there (a pity.) When I described it to her, she said she could make up something like a Philly cheese steak only with pork chop. I agreed. I ordered that with iced tea ($1.99.)

Incredibly, though I would not have thought it possible, the tea was actually weaker than what I was now famously served at Aunt Hattie's Cow Patty.

How weak was it? Well, when I held a packet of Equal behind the rim of the glass then looked down through the surface of the "tea," I could quite literally read the word "Equal" through it. To achieve that level of weakness at home, I would imagine you would have to brew one cup of hot tea with a small tea bag,then add that to TWO GALLONS of water. I'm totally serious.

As I was paying my check at the register, I told the waitress/cook that it was literally the weakest "tea" I had ever been served. First, I asked if the person who had made the tea was from the south. She was. I then asked how they made the tea. She pointed to a Bunn tea brewer behind her.

When she confirmed that they used one mega tea bag, I asked if they had ever tried using two. She said they had, but it had come out so strong people were "gagging on it." I then asked her if she knew that those brewers had to be serviced and adjusted periodically ( the Bunn rep cleans the nozzles and sets the brewing temperature and volume of water.) She said that the guy had recently been there working on it. Perhaps the guy who services Camden restaurants for Bunn does not know what-in-the-hell he's doing.

The French fries were the old style, thick, crinkle cuts - which I like. Unfortunately, they were fried in grease that was probably just a few degrees below optimal frying temp and most assuredly fried in old grease that was way overdue for changing. They were darkly discolored by the old grease. I left nearly all of them on the plate.

The pork chop sandwich was made with pork chop that had been diced into little cubes the size of
the miniature sugar cubes some of us will remember getting our Salk polio vaccine on years ago.
The onions and peppers were way over cooked - just short of frankly burned. Edible, but that is about it.

Recommendations: Close the restaurant temporarily and do it immediately.

Trash all that faded, garish crap on the wall.

Paint the floor all one color if you can't afford carpet. Apply another coat of white paint all around then pick some pleasant finish colors for the walls. Hang a few pictures. Maybe some historic Woodbine pictures from Bryan-Lang library or contemporary Woodbine landscape photos. Check with county government to get names of their award winning local landscape photographers from their annual contests.

Replace those light fixtures. Not only are they an eyesore, but by not having covers, are actualy in violation of the health code.

Solve that tea problem before you re-open. Remove some of your items that have not sold well when you get a professional printer to produce some decent looking laminated menus that can be kept clean to replace your current ones. Concentrate on preparing fewer dishes but producing them exceedingly well.

Lastly, do not set your standards based upon prevailing Woodbine standards. If you can not legitimately compete with clean, attractive, and delicious competitors in south Camden and Glynn County, your customer base will never go much beyond well-oiled bar patrons with the munchies and folks "trapped" in town by courthouse business with nowhere else to eat.

Good luck.


Anonymous said...

I would say that is about right. BTW they serve the pork chop sandwich with the bone.

Anonymous said...

I stopped in and thought I would give the place a try. Boy was that a big mistake. I have had some sorry fried chicken before but hands down that place served the worst I have ever had. When I think about it I have a very unpleasant feeling. It is a bar that is an excuse for a resturant.
It what it is. Very pour. I give 1/10 greasy spoone.

Jay Moreno said...

Can't say I disagree.

When Woodbine finally allows drinking on Sunday in a joint with more than 50% of revenue from food, they will be all set to claim to be qualified.

That almost happened in November.

Anonymous said...

Boy were you right Jay about Coby's being a gag joint. I followed up the ads and thought there may be some thing to the place. That is an example of what not to attempt in that type of business. They set a new standard on preparation of lousy chow. Barf was the next result.

Jay Moreno said...

I must confess that I was greatly relieved when 24 hours had passed and I had suffered no ill effects.