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Dish: The Lunch Loft

· Open since: March

· Location: The Lunch Loft is just off Buford Highway on Hamilton Mill Road, across from Buford Village.

· Hours: 11 a.m. to

3 p.m. Monday through Friday

· Owner: The Lunch Loft is owned by Kathy Monroe, former owner of Scoops on the Square in downtown Lawrenceville. Monroe left corporate America in 2002 to open a small ice cream parlor. She has since expanded to include a wide array of lunch items at affordable prices.

· Atmosphere: The Lunch Loft is the perfect escape from the humdrum nuances of the regular work day. With an interior of buttercream walls and gleaming white wood, the luncheonette exudes optimism. A wall of windows allows sunlight to stream into the small but cozy dining area, and the counter is a welcoming centerpiece in the room. The countertop is adorned with a display of homemade cupcakes, while a magazine rack provides reading fare for a casual lunch.

With seating space for 25, the room is just large enough to enjoy a comfortable meal. The kitchen is in view, and the light, energetic music provides a serene atmosphere.

· Menu: The Lunch Loft delivers on its motto "Fresh. Simple. Good." with a large variety of sandwiches, wraps and salads at affordable prices.

"We pay attention to portions," Monroe said. "We don't cut back on quality."

The chicken salad plate at The Lunch Loft, made from a recipe passed down by Monroe's mother, is among the most popular entrees. The Lunch Loft also serves tuna and egg salad, as well a sampler plate of all three.

Other popular menu items include classic sandwiches such as the BLT, The Club, classic turkey or ham and The Grilled Cheese Deluxe, a twist on the childhood staple made from three types of cheese with sliced Roma tomatoes and bacon. The Lunch Loft also offers guilt-free wraps and salads.

Desserts include Monroe's famous banana pudding, available most days and atop a bed of crushed graham crackers. Customers can also order an ice cream sundae, probably a throwback to Monroe's days at Scoops on the Square. The Lunch Loft's homemade cupcakes are perhaps the eatery's more renowned dessert items, and, according to Monroe, with good reason.

· Things you might not know: The Lunch Loft takes orders by phone or fax. The restaurant delivers to a limited area until noon. The menu at The Lunch Loft is a basic variation of the menu at Scoops on the Square, with occasional menu changes made throughout the year. Monroe, a Chicago native, also serves Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago-style hot dogs, the "biggest flavor from home." All items are made fresh to order with freshly prepared and sliced ingredients.

If you have a restaurant you would like to see featured in The Dish, call Staff Writer Deanna Allen at 770-963-9205 ext. 1321 or E-mail deanna.allen@

gwinnettdailypost.com.