By Will Fairless
Café 123, a popular dinner option in Opelika since 2005, has started serving lunch for the first time since the earliest days of its existence.
Eron Bass, the executive chef and general manager at the café, had started creating a lunch menu at the end of 2019. “Then COVID hit,” Bass said. “At that point we had to concentrate on how we were going to stay open and survive the pandemic. Our dinner service is fine dining and the food we create is best served in the café, not in a to-go box.”
To find a travel-friendly menu suitable for business during the worst days of the pandemic, Bass turned to the lunch menu that was still in its nascent stages. “We called it our ‘social-distancing’ menu,” he said. “It took off; we were busier than we’d been in a long time. It worked perfectly.”
The success of the social-distancing menu, evidenced by the public demand for its return after Café 123 reopened for dinner service, made it a no-brainer to start having lunch hours.
Bass said that they (he and the owner, John Robert Wood) were going to wait until the restaurant was able to fully open before the lunch hours and menu were implemented. It is still no clearer when that will be, so they have decided to pull the trigger.
The café will be open for lunch service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The menu comprises po’ boys (of the shrimp, crawfish, ribeye and chicken varieties), their house-ground ribeye and flat steak burger (the subject of many calls since to-go service stopped) and a lobster roll or lobster mac ‘n’ cheese (ditto).
“Lunch will be casual and family-friendly,” Bass said. “We’ll have some appetizers like our Pimento cheese board, deviled eggs and deep-fried chicken skins, and there will be lighter options like Lou’s Chicken salad.”
The full lunch menu is available on the café’s Facebook page (facebook.com/cafe123/) along with other information about the restaurant.