Making the Grade: Guthrie’s Downtown Auburn



Recently, Mike and I were on a quest to find a restaurant at which to dine. Then, I would write about our experience, and Mike would photograph it. This particular review started out as quite an adventure. The first restaurant we tried had just closed because the supply truck hadn’t come. Well, that is normal these days, unfortunately. We went back to our Sorento, shaking our heads.

Then we decided to go to downtown Auburn, on campus, to go to restaurant No. 2. We normally avoid downtown Auburn until most of the students go home for the summer. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Auburn students. After all, I was one myself when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I just don’t enjoy the increased traffic the students cause. However, Mike and I figured that this would be the perfect time to dine at an on-campus restaurant. Wrong. It was closed. I guess those students are really necessary for on-campus establishments to do well. No kidding.

Anyway, I went back to our car, laughing out loud. Mike, not so much. Then I spotted Guthrie’s in downtown Auburn location at 129 E. Glenn Ave., the newest Guthrie’s in the county.

I love that the original Guthrie’s was opened by Hal Guthrie, a fellow Auburn alum, in Haleyville, Alabama. Hal and his son Chris, who is also an Auburn grad, brought Guthrie’s to Auburn in July of 1982. This Guthrie’s was located in the old Sonic building on Opelika Road, not far from the new one in downtown Auburn.

All the Guthrie’s restaurants in Auburn and Opelika are still family-owned. Joe Kelly Guthrie lives in Auburn. However, the Guthrie family allows franchises. But Guthrie’s is an Auburn tradition, so I decided to review the newest Guthrie’s restaurant.

I have a warm spot in my heart for Guthrie’s in downtown Auburn. Back on April 9, I had an appointment to get my hair styled by Ryan at 12K Salon in Auburn because that evening, Mike and I were attending my belated 40th high school class reunion (Benjamin Russell High School class of 1981; go, Wildcats!). By the way, if you’re looking for a fabulous hairdresser, Ryan, the owner of 12K Salon, is terrific and gets an A+ from me. He makes my 10 hairs look like 20. But I digress.


  On April 9, when I drove onto College Street, going over the railroad tracks, I was stunned. There were people EVERYWHERE and no empty parking spaces ANYWHERE. I just couldn’t understand it. Why would so many people be in downtown Auburn on April 9? Then it hit me; it was Auburn’s A-Day game.

  Thus, I began circling the block like Jaws hunting for dinner. Nope. In desperation, I pulled into Guthrie’s downtown Auburn’s parking lot. When I went in and approached the young man at the counter, I poured on the old Patton charm.

“Young man, I promise I’m not attending Auburn’s A-Day game,” I said. “I’m going across the street to 12K Salon to get my hair styled for my high school reunion tonight. If you let me park here and won’t have my car towed, I promise you, my word as a Christian and Auburn fan, I will come back and eat some chicken fingers.”

  The young man checked with his boss, who kindly gave me permission, and I kept my word. But, I really digress.

  After striking out twice on trying to find a restaurant to review, Mike and I happily entered our favorite Guthrie’s and ordered the five-finger box with coleslaw, French fries and toast. Kalee, the sweet young woman who waited on us, was a real delight and gave us background information on Guthrie’s history.

  I love that Guthrie’s food is made to order.  Your chicken fingers and French fries are cooked fresh and aren’t sitting under a heat lamp for an hour; you can really taste the difference. As usual, our chicken fingers were wonderful: hot, crispy, fresh and delicious. Also, I LOVE Guthrie’s crinkle cut fries; they are simply the best. I love this Auburn institution and will continue to be a frequent customer.


 Guthrie’s in downtown Auburn is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. Since 3 a.m. is way past my bedtime, I’ll go a lot earlier.

  Guthrie’s in downtown Auburn 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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