4360 S. Lee St., Buford
· Open since: 1953
· Location: Puckett's restaurant is located at 4360 S. Lee St., just off Buford Drive in Buford. The restaurant has changed locations various times throughout its history, but it has resided at its current location since 2003.
· Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday
· Owner: Current owner Steve Puckett is the third generation of his family to own the restaurant. The first generation opened Puckett's in 1953, and the restaurant has remained a family business for more than a half a century.
· Atmosphere: Puckett's exudes a down home country feel with its quiet fluorescent lighting and wooden tabletop booths. Heirloom family photos hang along the walls, highlighting the family's long commitment to Buford. The restaurant recalls a mix between the lunch counters of decades past and the homey, comfortable air of a local Southern diner. The staff is all smiles, with a friendly hello and charming customer attentiveness.
· Menu: Puckett's Restaurant serves traditional Southern fare with family recipes and homemade dishes. The "meat and two veggies" idea prevails, with the customer-favorite fried steak available five days a week. With mashed potatoes and green beans, the meal is a familiar menu item, along with the fried chicken, available every day except Friday.
Breakfast is a sit-down service at Puckett's, while lunch and supper - served after 10:30 a.m. - are cafeteria-style.
"We cook everything like you would do it at home," said Steve Puckett. "We don't use canned goods. We still peel potatoes like the good ol'-fashioned days. It's just homemade stuff, like the recipes my grandparents used."
No Southern menu is complete without an appetizing array of dessert dishes, and Puckett's offers them in all the best varieties, all homemade. From lemon meringue, made completely from scratch, down to the homemade crust and the lemons squeezed in house, to coconut creme and egg custard, Puckett said their desserts are "the biggest thing we're known for."
"There are two big things we're known for, and they don't have anything to do with lunch," Puckett said. "People come in here just to get a slice of strawberry cake and carry it back to lunch with them."
"The other one (is) our grits at breakfast. If you ever eat our grits, you'll never go back to Waffle House again."
· Things you might not know: The Puckett family is legendary in Buford. One of the first Buford Pucketts was a charter member of the Buford Church of God. The founding male Puckett, Steve's grandfather, was the deputy chief of the Buford City Police Department, as was Steve's father.
"Sometimes I wonder if I'd rather done that than fried chicken," Puckett said. "Oh Lord, this is a tough business!"
The business has always been a family affair. Steve took the reins 10 years ago from his mother, Donna, who took over in 1983 and trained Steve in the business.
Puckett's prides itself on its long-standing tradition of customer loyalty. It's not uncommon for customers to return to Puckett's multiple times a week for years, such as Kathleen Terry of Suwanee, who Puckett said is the restaurant's oldest customer. She ate at Puckett's everyday for 50 years, from the time his grandparents founded the restaurant.
"Once you become a customer, we don't usually lose (you)," Puckett said. "We kind of go out of our way to keep who we get."
SideBar: On The Menu
Sampling from Monday's menu selections
Fried chicken, $3
Mashed potatoes, $1.50
Coconut creme pie, $1.60
Sampling from Wednesday's menu selections
Country fried steak, $3
Squash casserole, $1.50
Homemade banana pudding, $1.50
Great American Chocolate Cake, $2.50
Sampling from Friday's menu selections
Baked chicken and dressing, $3
Green beans, $1.50
Potato salad, $1.50