Making the Grade: The General’s Café

photos by Mike Wallace

Since this Sunday is Father’s Day, I want to dedicate this review to the memory of my Daddy, James Thomas (Tom) Patton, Sr., whom we lost to Alzheimer’s on April 22, 2018.

  Back when Daddy and Mama lived in Alexander City (“Eleck” City to the locals), Mike and I would pick them up, and we’d go to one of Daddy’s favorite restaurants: the General’s Café on Highway 22 in New Site.

  Open since 2000, the General’s Café is owned by Penny Tankersley Patterson, who was a classmate of mine at Benjamin Russell High School. Penny and I graduated in 1981, and our 40th high school reunion is currently being planned. We are much too young to be this old.

  When Mike, Daddy, Mama and I would arrive at the General’s Café, Ashley was usually our waitress. Ashley, a sweet soul, was always so patient when she took Daddy’s order. She never got frustrated as we helped Daddy make his choices. More often than not, Daddy and Mama would order the same thing: a fried catfish fillet, coleslaw and a baked sweet potato which was the size of a small football and was loaded with butter and brown sugar.

  Mike, Mama and I would be finished eating long before Daddy, who insisted on chewing each bite 65 times. It usually took Daddy 35 to 45 minutes longer than us to finish a meal. Mama would say, “Tom, are you about finished?” Mike and I would quietly chuckle at Daddy’s insistence on chewing so thoroughly. However, when we questioned him about it, Daddy said, “Have I ever had stomach trouble?” He did have a point; Daddy had no gastrointestinal issues.

  Awhile back, Mike, Mama and I traveled to New Site to eat at the General’s Café. Although it wasn’t the same without Daddy, the restaurant and staff hadn’t changed a bit. As usual, Ashley, our waitress, was as sweet and helpful as ever; she should teach a class in becoming a waitress.

She’s just that good.

  We ordered our favorite appetizer, the onion strips, which are lightly breaded, the way I prefer them; they were amazing. The special sauce was also really tasty.

  Mama chose her usual fried catfish fillet with coleslaw; however, she decided on french fries instead of the baked sweet potato. Mike and I both ordered a grilled catfish fillet, french fries and a fresh garden salad. As always, everything was fantastic and plentiful. The General’s Café definitely won’t send anyone home hungry.

  Also, the General’s offers diners quite a variety of choices. For instance, there are twelve different appetizers from which to choose, among which include: those amazing onion strips, the General’s famous cheese balls, fried mushrooms, fried dill pickles and buffalo wings. The restaurant also has a great selection of salads and sandwiches.

  Besides terrific fried and grilled catfish, other entrees include: shrimp, oysters, grilled chicken, chicken fingers and wings, chicken livers, country fried steak, choice ribeye steak and an incredibly delicious hamburger steak, which I highly recommend.

  In addition, the General’s has a big selection of homemade pies, cakes and cobblers to tempt diners. These luscious desserts are strategically placed in a glass case for all to see.

  The General’s Café is open on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.; Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.; and Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.

  If you are blessed and still have your Daddy, I hope you have a wonderful time with him this Sunday. Daddy, this one was for you. Thank you for being a strong, generous, Christian gentleman and for making us laugh at your family stories; I love and miss you very much.

  The General’s Café 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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