Serendipity is everything on a road trip…especially a book scouting road trip. And serendipity was working its magic for us today.
First, a suggestion had been made to us by Mike at Black Swan Books in Lexington, KY that we stop at a place called “Book Eddy” when we reached Knoxville, Tennessee. We Googled what directions we could find, and ended up at the correct address (after much searching), but wrong store. Book Eddy had moved. Some nice ladies in a tobacco store nearby told us he had moved about a year ago, and got right on their Androids to locate him for us. We discovered the new location, and the girls printed us out directions. Soon enough we found our way to the book shop, which had gone through a name change as well…now called “Central Street Books” at 842 N. Central Street, Knoxville. The place didn’t open until noon, so we walked around a bit.
When we got inside, we met owner John C. Coleman, who has been in the book business for more than twenty years.
John has a heck of a lot of nice books, and we had a ball shopping in his store.
Another view inside Central Street Books…
We made a stop at McKay’s Books in Knoxville as well…
This place was mobbed — we could barely find a parking place, and the aisles were filled with people shopping for used books. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It has a big box type atmosphere, highly organized, brightly lit, lots of check-outs. They are moving books. Most of them are newer used books, both hardcover and paperbacks. But it escapes me why people prefer to shop in a big box store like this when there’s a place nearby with ambiance, and much more interesting and attractive books, at reasonable prices…like Central Street Books. Beats me. I could only take about twelve minutes inside the big box used book store.
We continued south on I-75 toward Atlanta, stopping in an antique mall in Calhoun, Georgia on our way. We did find three interesting vintage books there.
We pulled off the interstate into a small town called Acworth, Georgia. Here’s the serendipity part. We looked at several hotels, and finally alighted at the Best Western. One of the reasons we chose the hotel was because of Jessie, at the front desk…
Unlike your average front desk person, Jessie was genuinely welcoming and knowledgeable. She instantly made us feel at home, and took care of our every need. Including directing us to just the kind of dining experience we were hoping for. In fact, it was better than we could have imagined!
Henry’s Louisiana Grill has the best down home southern cooking you could dream up, and the place fairly sparkles with life. Jazz music, great food, crawfish races, and filled to the gills with smiling, laughing people on a Wednesday night!
Chef and owner Henry Chandler is not only a superb cook, he is an extraordinary host. A liver transplant recipient, he is in love with life, and it shows. He moves through the restaurant having fun with his guests and keeping them engaged in enjoying the food and fun. He raises money for the Georgia Transplant Foundation through his crazy crawfish races and other events in order to give back to the community. I believe I heard him say that last year he raised $12,000 for the organization.
And the food is fabulous!
Our thanks to Jessie, for making our stay in Acworth, Georgia really special. And two the two ladies back in Knoxville who helped us find a book store which had moved and changed it’s name. And to Chef Henry…for being who he is and showing us a great time in his restaurant!
Remember this when you are on a road trip: It’s all about meeting the people in the places you go…and there are a lot of good people out there who can take your day from ordinary to fabulous.