When Walton Way Deli owners Michael and Lisa Hogue announced this week that the restaurant is closing its doors after more than 17 years in business, it was a surprise to many loyal customers.
“Back in September of 1999, we opened a little place called the Walton Way Deli,” The Hogues posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page this week. “I had a hard time deciding what to name it so I just called it ‘Walton Way Deli’ because I figured people would automatically know where we were located. We wanted to make a small old fashioned place that was easily manageable and only open for lunch so we would have more time at home with our children.”
But as of July 13, Walton Way Deli is closed.
“We can no longer keep up with the cost to do business at our location with the increased rent and lease terms that have been imposed,” The Hogues wrote. “We want to thank all of our loyal customers who have been there all along. We also want to thank all of our employees who worked along side us day in and day out. It is going to take us some time to get over this loss. The Deli has been our identity and our life for so long but it is just time to move on in a new direction.”
The Hogues say they will be focusing on their Augusta Honey Company in the future.
“We are sorry that things ended so abruptly and we will miss you all,” The Hogues posted. “Thank you so very much.”
There have been many changes along Walton Way since the deli first opened its doors in 1999.
Shortly after Walton Way Deli opened, the legendary Duke Restaurant closed its doors on Walton Way in 2000.
Whether people were looking for a traditional Southern breakfast or a quick lunch, Augustans loved eating at the horseshoe-shaped counter at Duke Restaurant, a family-owned business that everyone referred to as “Duke’s,” for more than 40 years.
The late James Duke opened the restaurant on Walton Way back in the 1950s, and his son, David, eventually took it over.
It was an Augusta landmark with its slogan, “Just Good Food,” but it was also a major hot spot for local politics in the Garden City.
Everybody who was anybody in politics would frequent Duke for lunch.
When Augustans watched Duke Restaurant close and eventually be torn down, it was a like a huge chunk of Augusta’s history was also destroyed.
A few years later, residents were once again heartbroken when Smoak’s Bakery on Walton Way closed its doors in 2004.
Smoak’s Bakery first began in the early 1930s as an operation run from the kitchen of Daniel Smoak’s mother on Central Avenue. As the bakery grew, it expanded into a catering service and eventually moved to Walton Way in 1984.
It was a local treasure that offered desserts and pastries residents still dream about to this day.
People also won’t soon forget their fond memories of the Delta Sandwich Shoppe, tucked away on Wilson Street just off of Central Avenue.
Each and every day in this tiny restaurant in the Hill area, locals longed to smell fresh ground meat being slapped on a hot grill and cooked to perfection.
Delta Sandwich Shoppe was known for serving up thick patties that were slightly crunchy on the outside, but moist and juicy on the inside.
In 2003, professional golfer and native Augustan Charles Howell III told Golf Digest that the Delta Sandwich Shoppe at 1208 Wilson Street was one of his favorite spots in the Garden City.
“Not many people will drive out of their way for a hamburger, but believe me, the Perry Burger is one great burger,” Howell told Golf Digest. “It was named after the original owner of the shop, Perry Whitaker. He passed away a while back, but the burger lives on.”
Delta Sandwich Shoppe was pure Augusta nostalgia.
However, this longtime tradition eventually came to a close in 2011 when then-owner Tammy Jeffers had to shut its doors after running the restaurant for about 10 years.
Most residents’ fondest memories of Delta Sandwich Shoppe were from when the restaurant was owned by former Augusta police chief Jim Beck.
Even though it was just a small hole in the wall on a side street off Central Avenue, everyone knew it was the place for a burger.
Longtime Augustans were guaranteed that each burger was always built to order and tasted like it just came off your father’s backyard grill.
Let’s face it, change is hard in Augusta and losing locally owned restaurants is even tougher.
Residents must remember to eat local whenever possible because it not only helps support the community, but it helps keep Augusta’s history alive.