Early August 2019. My husband Mike and I got up at about 4:15 a.m. central time, and we had a little spring in our steps despite the incredibly early hour. Why? Because it was the first pre-planning day of our 30th year of teaching, our retirement year.
We were too excited as we rode to Long Cane Middle School in LaGrange, Georgia, dressed in matching retirement T-shirts which we had designed ourselves. On the front, there was a school picture of us with the words, “Our last year is finally here! Mike and Stacey Wallace — Farewell Tour 2020.”
The back of our shirts looked like a rock star’s scheduled tour dates. We included important dates in our 30-year careers, including the date of our first year (August 1990, The Adventure Begins) and our last day as working teachers (May 28, 2020, A New World Awaits.)
However, in August 2019, we didn’t know that the “New World” would be designed by COVID-19. Our school and the whole world shut down; the only places anyone could go were the grocery store, the pharmacy and the doctor, wearing a mask and trying not to get to close to other people.
As all Americans with elderly parents had to do, we visited Barbara Patton, my sweet Mama (and not the former mayor of Opelika), outside the window of the assisted living facility in which she lived in Dadeville. We talked to her on our cell phone, but we could no longer hug or kiss her.
It was a gray, sad world for everyone, and it was certainly not the retirement we had anticipated. Mike and I had wanted to take a retirement trip to Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, not knowing that Seattle would become ground zero for the pandemic in America. We also had looked forward to getting to know our church family at Central Baptist of Opelika better and make new friends. Nope. Mike and I sat at home and watched a lot of movies, as everyone else did.
However, God blessed us greatly during the hard shutdown. Mike and I didn’t lose our lives, home, teaching positions or retirement pensions, and we were very grateful.
Now, however, we are living the retirement we had envisioned four years ago. Mike and I are more involved with friends and ministries at Central Baptist Church; if you’re looking for a sweet, loving church, please come and visit us soon. Also, we are meeting new friends in the community. For example, both Mike and I are taking classes at Auburn University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute or OLLI, which I highly recommend to people 50 years old and up.
Recently, I met Judy, Nancy and Kim, three of my new OLLI friends, at Corner Office at 540 Devall Drive, Suite 103, in Auburn’s Technology Park. Being the least tech savvy person I know, I thought the restaurant’s location was a little ironic; I’m surprised I was even allowed in the area.
Corner Office is locally owned by Matt Poirier, who also owns The Hound and The Depot in Auburn and Sneak & Dawdle in Opelika.
Corner Office opened last August. The restaurant has a bright and cheerful interior, and I admired the attractive plants hanging from the light fixtures. The unfinished mural will also be an attractive feature when it’s finished.
Haly, our cashier, and Ashley, our server, were so warm, patient and helpful. Also, Jess Vigeland, Corner Office’s front of the house manager, was a delight and kindly answered all of my questions.
For our appetizer, my friends and I shared an order of avocado toast, which consisted of sourdough, avocado, goat cheese, pickled onion, arugula and a balsamic glaze. It was really fresh and delicious.
Judy selected the cheeseburger with homemade chips, while Kim ordered the special of the day, a meatball sub and tater tots. Nancy chose the goddess handheld, which consisted of smoked turkey, smoked bacon, provolone, avocado, lettuce, onion and Green Goddess dressing on a baguette. I ordered a cheeseburger with cheese tater tots. Everything was slap your Grandma two times good.
Corner Office offers breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m., including build-your-own breakfast sandwiches, an early bird burrito and “totchos,” which consists of queso, chorizo, fresh pico, avocado crema, cilantro and radish.
Besides our delectable dishes, other lunch items include shrimp and grits, soup of the day with a baguette, salads and handhelds such as a chicken sandwich and fried green tomato.
From 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Corner Office serves a happy hour menu which includes: totchos, boneless wings, Po’cheese with crackers, a giant soft pretzel with Jess’s sweet and tangy mustard and pork belly sliders.
Trust me, visit Corner Office as soon as you can; you’ll be very happy you did.
Judy, Nancy and Kim, this review was for you. I look forward to our next food adventure.
Also, I want to give a special thanks to Michelle Key, the owner and publisher of The Observer. Three years ago, Michelle let me write “Making the Grade,” for her paper, and I really appreciated the opportunity. Who knew that a “Pooh-sized,” retired English teacher would get to have so much fun? In addition, thanks to my readers who spend time reading my column; without you, I wouldn’t have this pleasure.
Corner Office is closed on Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant is open Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Corner Office makes the grade with an A+ from this retired schoolteacher. Remember, “Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!

Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear every other week in The Observer. Stacey may be reached at retiredlangartsteacher2020@gmail.com.