The historic downtown DeFuniak Spring's spot, now known as The Busy Bee Cafe, has seen a lot of changes in its 100-plus year history.
Before it was serving lunch to the locals, the spot was a Greyhound bus station, a skating rink and automotive store and in it's conception, a hardware store. When DeFuniak Springs resident Dennis Ray purchased the building in 1992, he decided to turn it into a cafe. He was inspired by a lunch spot located a half a block away named The Busy Bee.
"We're not sure when exactly the cafe opened, but in old photos you can see cars parked in front that date back to 1916, so we can assume it was open around that time," Ray said.
In an effort to recreate history, Ray kept the aesthetic of the early 1900s.
Ray is passionate about historic DeFuniak Springs as he grew up in the area, and came back home after retiring from his professor position at Mississippi State University. He is chair of the Florida Chautauqua Center, Inc. and you can also find him most days behind the cash register at another one of his businesses, The Little Big Store.
Many customers would comment the restaurant looked like The Whistle Stop cafe from the popular movie and book, "Fried Green Tomatoes."
"They began asking if we had fried green tomatoes on the menu, but we didn't," he said.
It wasn't long until those requests led to Ray and his wife to start experimenting the kitchen. The result was the Fried Green Tomato Bacon Sandwich, a staple on the Busy Bee menu to this day.
"It's in the contract for whoever leases the place has to keep the sandwich on the menu," he said.
In September, husband and wife Angie and Greg Franklin began leasing the cafe. They have restaurant experience, as past owners of LeBleau's Cajun Kitchen in Santa Rosa Beach.
After a short lapse in management, Angie Franklin said customers were eager to get back to the Bee.
"We see a lot of repeat customers," she said. "People are glad it's open a again."
As long-term DeFuniak Springs residents, the Franklins have an appreciation for the historic downtown.
"We definitely love the feeling of the community," Franklin said. "We hope to be here to see the downtown area fully revitalized."
On the menu are Southern comfort food favorites such as shrimp poboys, meatball sandwiches and at the very top — the Fried Green Tomato sandwich.
Franklin makes everything from scratch. She took up cooking at a young age growing up with eight siblings. Her favorite food to make is muffins. With ten different choices to choose from, she bakes a fresh batch everyday.
Much like the famous sandwich, the cafe's decor has remained similar with old photos and newspaper clippings hanging on the wall. Ray's personal collection of antique appliances take up a whole wall of the cafe.
Whether you're looking for a morning spot to have a cup of coffee and read the newspaper or a place to grab lunch, you can't go wrong with the food and atmosphere at Busy Bee Cafe.
"I hope people come in and relax, enjoy a good meal with their family and then come back again," Franklin said.
WANT TO GO? The Busy Bee Cafe is open Monday through Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and closed Sunday. For more information, call 951-0048 or find the cafe on Facebook.