Feature Story: Remembering a Cochran landmark

Photo Shared by Bill Baldwin … I actually remember this day!

By Becky Holland, Blogger
The Murphy Gazette

COCHRAN, GEORGIA: East Dykes Street, directly across from the campus of the old Bleckley County High School, was where the Holland House restaurant sat for many years.

The last owners and operators were Sonny and Connie Giddens. Who could forget Mr. Sonny’s cheeseburgers that were oh,so good they could fill you up for days, and you wouldn’t look the same at a cheeseburger again? Or what about the infamous Julius -the hamburger patty without a bun? Or their Bruinswick Stew, or Mrs. Connie’s infectious laughter?

Or “Helen Waite . ”

Meals at the Holland House were comparable only to your grandmother’s or mom’s home cooking or Sunday dinners … sometimes, they were better. (Shhh! But don’t tell Mom I said that.)

The environment in the restaurant was not stand-offish or hurry eat and get out, it was one of those places where you could sit, talk, savor each bite and then socialize a bit over that last gulp of the sweetest tea ever.

I was nine when we moved to Cochran, and a few months later, we ate at the Holland House – no relation. It became a regular for us – just like many in the community.

If we didn’t eat there, my sister and I would get a ‘to-go’ plate order.

And Mrs. Connie and Mr. Sonny – no matter how busy they were – always treated everyone with the same warmth. We were more than customers – all of us – to them – we were their friends, neighbors and family.

If someone had written a theme song for the Holland House, I imagine it would be a lot like the theme song for the NBC series, “Cheers.” “Where everyone knows your name …”

Avery Lee (Larsen) Henson agreed. “I always loved the grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“The Julius Special was my favorite, and Connie’s marinated carrots,” Leanna Noah said, “and they were always very friendly.”

Monica Jones said, “I loved their cheeseburger and fries … and will never forget
one of the signs on the counter … It said ‘Helen Waite is our credit manager … if you want credit, go see Helen Waite …” I always thought that was hilarious.” Jaen (Bradberry) Canders and Shuree (Faulk) Snow remembered the sign as well.

“I always preferred their Brunswick stew to anyone in the area,” Ramona Giles said, and added, “They provided a ‘first job’ experience for many high school and college students.”

Bill Baldwin remembered, “The sign outside always kept you up with what was going on in the community.”

Christie (Moore) Hinson said, “Their cheeseburgers would melt in your mouth … and the crinkle fries were always perfect!”

“I loved their BBQ sandwiches too … I remember my mother taking us after picking us up from school. and that’s what I would always order. I used to love all the funny signs on the walls, and I remember Ms. Connie’s infectious laugh when she and my mother would chit chat while we ate,” Christie concluded.

Carla Hon said, “The Julius was my favorite … but they had a lot of things that were good … sure do miss them.”

“ …. loved catfish on Friday nights. But I think their community announcements on their sign were the best,” Lynne (Dillard) Lister said, adding, “In the times before social media, you could ride by and see who had a birthday or who’d had a baby. This made them uniquely a home town restaurant.”

Kay (Padgett) Struble said, “I worked there … and I loved their spaghetti.”

“I loved the inside … it was so cool … the hamburgers and the Brunswick stew … the inside was like home, and a true Southern restaurant … but remember, these are memories of a child,” Michael Bland said.

David Barron shared a photo of a time he and his dad and brother, Randy, ate there. (See below)

Don Byram recalled, “I loved their spaghetti and the ribeye steaks.”

“My grandaddy would only allow Holland House BBQ in his house,” Dale (Floyd) Fordham said. “It was great! I loved everything.”

Donna (Bridgers) Smith remembered, “The Holland House was my last meal before going into the hospital to have my daughter.”

“I worked there twice for Sonny and Connie, and I loved it I was new to town, and that is where I met some of the most amazing people from Cochran. I loved working there …they are family,” Diana LeGuin said.

David Sumner said, “The Julius and the jukebox that always played Alabama … and the sign at the checkout that said ‘Our credit manager is Helen Waite, if you need credit go to Helen Waite.'”

From David Barron

“My sister, Robin, and I would eat there and she would always ask me what ‘Helen Waite’ meant, normally when we were checking out … the lady at the counter would laugh because I did not want to actually explain what that really meant to a small kid. My brother was part of the team that put the roof on the restaurant,” Sharon Hall-Warren said.

Jenelle Floyd said, “ I loved their hamburgers. My Shug would go fishing the first part of each week and whatever he caught he would take to Sonny for him to grill along with side orders. I was fortunate on some Fridays that my Shug would bring me a plate of delicious grilled fish for lunch as a surprise.”

Brian Sanders said, “Loved their pizza … it was the best.”

“I loved it there … had my bridesmaid’s luncheon there 35 and half years ago …good food and good friends,” Gayle (Stephens) Sapp said.

Cindy (Ward) McCranie remembered, “My first job that was not on the farm was there … I didn’t even know how to make coffee … I think they thought I was crazy -my mom was the only one that drank coffee and she used instant.”

“We lived a simple life. I learned a lot working there. My favorite food was the ham, lettuce and tomato sandwich,” Cindy said.

Christy (Holland) Collins
has even fonder memories of the Holland House. “Our granddaddy built the Holland House! I wasn’t even in kindergarten yet. We have the recipe for Granddaddy’s Brunswick stew (his handwritten recipe).”

And I have got instructions on how to make the Julius Special straight from Mr. Sonny … talk about a prize.

Oh the memories … Do you have a memory of the Holland House – share in the comments.

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