Making the Grade: Bizilia’s Cafe




Have you ever noticed how well your Mama seems to do everything? Barbara Patton, my Mama, was married to my Daddy for 66 years. She is an amazing wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, Christian role model, cook, cleaner, confidant, psychologist, peacemaker, teacher, boo-boo fixer, referee, etc.

  Mama is a member of the Greatest Generation. She was born in 1932, in the middle of the Great Depression, and at 89, she can still remember when World War II ended.

“I was 12, and I was washing my hair when the mill whistle blew because the war was over,” she said.

  I, however, am certainly NOT the woman my mother is. I’m a Baby Boomer, and I know that neither my generation nor the ones after mine will ever measure up to Mama’s generation, and that’s all right.

  As I sit here in Mama’s room at East Alabama Medical Center, I wish I could make her well again, but I cannot. Therefore, I will continue to pray for her and love her. She is awaiting yet another procedure.

  Mama was at EAMC for two weeks and was released to a local nursing home on May 3. Then on May 7, she went back to the hospital, spending Mother’s Day there. Obviously, not what I wanted for her on Mother’s Day. Mama is at EAMC so often, she probably should have her own parking space. If you pray, please pray for my Mama. Thanks so much.

  Before I begin my review, I’d like to thank the staff of EAMC’s eighth floor for taking such great care of Mama: doctors Drake, Carter and Crowe; nurses Hannah, Roy, Karla and Brittany; techs Angela, Lauren and Cali. I apologize for any I missed. I was also very impressed to meet Tiffany, a nurse who won the very prestigious Daisy Award. The Daisy Award was created in 1999 and honors “extraordinary, compassionate care being provided by a nurse.” It’s the highest honor a nurse can receive. Tiffany, who has been a nurse for less than a year, was nominated by a co-worker and by a patient’s family member. Roy, who trained Tiffany, said, “Tiffany sets the bar at an unreachable level for the rest of us.” However, Tiffany pointed out that in a recent survey, someone from the Joint Commission said, “Roy in PCU was awesome. Every unit needs a Roy!”

  Our community is so blessed to have such outstanding health care providers at EAMC. Again, my thanks to you all.

  However, back to my review. One of the many things that Mama did great was making delicious, toasted ham-and-cheese sandwiches. Now that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but somehow, hers were always better than mine. Surprise, surprise.

  I love to have my sandwich toasted, and I have found just the place to have it done professionally: Bizilia’s Cafe at 134 N. College St. in Auburn. The restaurant specializes in paninis. According to Google, a panini is a “sandwich made with Italian bread, such as ciabatta, rosetta and michetta.” Bizilia’s Cafe has made paninis an art form.

  Mark and Christy Arrington have owned Bizilia’s Cafe for eight years. Christy is originally from the Beauregard/Opelika area, and Mark is originally from Tampa, Florida. After Mark graduated from Auburn University, the couple moved to Tampa. Then they moved back 25 years later to raise their daughter Bella, who also runs Bizilia’s Cafe.

 “During COVID-19, the local community really stepped up for us,” Christy said.  “I’ve never seen anything like it. You just can’t beat local folks. We know our customers by name.”

  When I came to the restaurant, I placed a to-go order for a ham and Swiss panini with tomato and Dijon mustard. I didn’t want the mayo; I’m more of a mustard woman. I also purchased a bag of chips. It was the perfect panini — warm, toasted and mouth-wateringly delicious. Oh, my two times. I predict that the Arringtons will know me by name soon, too.

  Also, I ordered a blueberry muffinini, which is a toasted muffin, and I ordered caramel sauce to pour over it. Oh, my three times. Unfortunately, this diabetic has found another addictive dessert.

  Besides my perfect panini, Bizilia’s Cafe also serves other paninis such as: chicken pesto, club, buffalo wrap, pulled pork, veggie and Caesar wrap. The restaurant also offers diners salads and a pork trifecta. Run and do not walk to Bizilia’s Cafe.

  Mama, this review was for you. Thank you for being the Best. Mama. Ever. As our dear friend Dottie says, “I love you to the moon and back!”

  Bizilia’s Cafe is open on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  Bizilia’s Cafe makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. 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 each week in The Observer. Stacey may be reached at


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