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Lilburn Man Dreams of Southern Food, Coffee at Blue Rooster

Soul food on one side, a coffee shop on the other is Gordon's vision for the old Blue Rooster building.

Gene Gordon has a dream: opening a restaurant at the old Blue Rooster site on one side of the building, with a Starbucks-style coffee shop and bakery on the other.

Or it would be his dream if he could get some shut-eye. "I can't sleep for thinking about it," Gordon said.

Gordon now partners with Gateway and delivers chips like those tasty vegetable-flavored ones at , but he's worked in restaurants. He learned to cook from his mother, he said, and he's worked with Robbie Montgomery, the owner of Sweetie Pie's at the Mangrove in St. Louis, Mo. She is Gordon's stepfather's ex-partner and the star of the Oprah Winfrey Network's Welcome to Sweetie Pie's.

"I think I'm a step above," Sweetie Pie's, Gordon said after speaking with Lilburn's Downtown Development Authority, the owner of the Blue Rooster building, about the possibility of opening a cafe there. "And her cooking is awesome."

The next step is for Gordon to submit a business plan to the DDA. Gordon said he would be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and would like to keep the look and atmosphere of Old Town Lilburn.

Two other candidates have expressed interest in the place. At last month's DDA meeting, for a cafe that would serve healthy soups, salads and sandwiches. In January, Candace Hawkins talked to the DDA about her idea of opening a restaurant serving southern creole food.

The DDA bought the Blue Rooster property last fall in a bid to get a business in there as quickly as possible. People had expressed interest in renting the place, Doug Stacks, planning and economic director for Lilburn, said back then, but the bank that owned it could only sell it, not rent it out. Too, by buying the place, the DDA can determine what sort of business moves into the space, which the city considers to be a linchpin for redeveloping Old Town Lilburn.

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