It is hard to believe that Spring is almost here, and that Drucilla’s has been gracing Athens with home-cooked fare, high teas, special events, and a catering service since its opening in 2014. Drucilla’s is located in a lovely Victorian house at 300 North Marion, in the historical section of Athens. It was built in 1901, and was the Manse (or parsonage) of the Presbyterian Church.
The restaurant is named in honor of owner Carol Holland’s grandmother, who was a highly respected elementary school teacher. Olna Drucilla Bullington taught at several schools throughout Limestone County, including Piney Chapel and Ardmore, and she was also a great cook. Mrs. Bullington taught Carol both to love cooking, and to do it well. Carol is a native of Athens, graduated from Athens High, and got her engineering degree from UAH. She spent her career working for Department of Defense contractors as a Systems Engineer.
In the summer of 2014, Carol decided to pursue a lifelong dream of owning her very own restaurant. She had always loved the house, and gladly purchased it when it became available. It is an elegant, well preserved building, complete with leaded glass windows, fireplaces, antiques, and high ceilings. It now sports an outside eating area (front lawn and back patio), park benches, flowers, and an herb and vegetable garden, also named in honor of Drucilla.
Carol loves the idea of “eclectic” in both the décor and the menu. Some of her menu choices came from places she had visited on vacation, some from family recipes, some are from England, and some are just classic Southern. She uses the term “Southern eclectic” to describe it all.
Recently the menu has undergone several changes, and Carol has tried to price the items so two people can have a very nice lunch for around $20. “We are moving in the direction of what you would call a tea room,” said Carol. “We have added specialties such as Poulet de Normandie. It’s served with congealed cranberry salad and a yeast roll. We also have a Quiche of the Week, which is served with a small spinach salad and a bran muffin,” she told me. Then she chuckled as she said, “We don’t want to scare off the men, though. We still have hearty sandwiches, spaghetti, and baked ham every day.”
For lighter fare, Drucilla’s offers at least 16 different salads such as traditional chicken, the chicken Waldorf (apples, grapes, pecans), broccoli, Hawaiian, corn, cucumber, etc. in mix and match combinations. For those with a gluten-free requirement, Drucilla’s wants everyone to know that all of their salads are gluten-free, except for the macaroni salad and the pasta salad. Homemade desserts are always available. Favorites include strawberry cake, coconut cake, old-fashioned Butter Roll, Mississippi mud cake, peanut butter pie, caramel pie and strawberry pretzel salad. Strawberry pretzel salad, peanut butter pie, and caramel pie are offered daily. As much as possible, Carol purchases produce and supplies locally in order to support our county economy.
Recently, she added a bakery case in the dining room which is located on the south side of Drucilla’s, and it is filled with all manner of goodies, as illustrated by the menu. It is also possible to purchase the delicious blends of teas to take and brew at home, and I can say from experience that it is a challenge to decide which one, because they are all so good.
The tea room has been quite successful, and the custom high teas are fashioned after those you would find in England. The high teas feature such classics as cucumber sandwiches, scones, tarts, mini-muffins, and a minimum of three selections of teas. I took a young lady to a special tea; she brought her American Girl doll as her “guest,” and the doll sat properly on the table. The presentation was beautiful, and the young lady even got to pick which teapot, cup, and saucer would be used for the event. She still talks about it, and wants to come back. For the high teas, Drucilla’s needs your reservation 24 hours in advance so they can prepare exactly what and how much of each item you desire.
Carol has just opened up a mini-mall filled with antiques in the sun room on the east side of Drucilla’s, as well as a case featuring silver and glassware items which are visible when you come in the front door. In the south side dining room, there is also a selection of antique hats and accessories, all period, no knock-offs or reproductions. “You can buy a last minute gift after you finish your meal,” she said.
Carol’s husband Justin has worked diligently to put in a beautiful garden in the back yard, and the fruits of his labor were abundant last year. In season, tomatoes, squash, lettuce, onions, eggplant, and cabbages, all make their way into Drucilla’s daily menu. The herb garden has basil, lavender, rosemary, thyme, spearmint and peppermint, sage, chives and oregano. The garden itself is a feast for the eyes, and Carol said, “We are looking forward to serving herbs and vegetables right out of Drucilla’s garden.”
Drucilla’s was asked to cater the recent “State of the County” luncheon, hosted at the Limestone County Event Center. “The catering service of Drucilla’s is something we want people to be aware of,” she said. It is a wonderful place for wedding receptions, bridal and baby showers, church dinners, reunions, and other special gatherings. They are also available in the evenings for private dinners.
Drucilla’s is a welcome, and now well established addition to the Athens restaurant scene. You can experience it for yourself every Monday through Friday, from 10:30 am til 2 pm, or by booking a special event.
300 North Marion Street
Athens, AL, 35611
Hours: M-F 10:30-2
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner