The Union Recorder

March 6, 2013

Upscale downtown brunch spot fits The Baldwin

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Careers at a high-end car dealership and Hyatt Hotels gave Cliff Charnes plenty of practice providing customers a quality, upscale experience. This spring, downtown Milledgeville adds a breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant to its resume.

The Local Yolkal Café, conceptualized by Charnes and his wife Jennifer, utilizes The Baldwin's street level retail space at 117 W. Hancock St.

A long time Savannah resident, Charnes and his family fell in love with the area and Lake Sinclair over multiple vacation trips. Now a lake resident, the Local Yolkal owner said he noticed downtown lacked a family breakfast restaurant complementing others specializing in lunch and dinner.

Savannah brunch locations incorporated into the downtown atmosphere were a family favorite.

“It's the type of restaurant we like to go to,” Charnes said. “There was nowhere to do that.”

The Baldwin, owned by Frank Pendergast, turned out to be the perfect fit. Sitting several stories high, the revamped building incorporates higher end loft apartments.

Two storefront spaces on the ground level coexist within the unique vision. Charnes said The Baldwin brought the restaurant concept full circle.

“Last year, we were here and saw the building under construction. It's really what prompted the idea,” Charnes said. “When I saw what (Pendergast) was doing here I said man that's a good place for something like this. I felt like we needed to be right here on this strip.”

The Local Yolkal Café will serve breakfast classics and more upscale faire from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Together with omelets, pancakes and waffles, the new downtown food player brings numerous Eggs Benedict variations.

“We want to offer the freshest and custom made cooked to order food,” the new owner said.

Quality control is important to the brand. The brunch café will employ seven to 10.

“I'm going to look for local talent. It's not a difficult to prepare menu,” Charnes said. “I want somebody that understands the atmosphere and upscale food we want to present to the public.”

Restaurant color will mimic a sunrise. Wood booths and side tables give flexible, comfortable seating for 80.

A bright, clean ambiance is the objective.

Charnes wants students and residents to enjoy the restaurant.

“The students are going to be a big part of the business, but I think there is a local crowd here that would love something like this,” Charnes said.

The Local Yolkal did utilize Georgia College for its logo design. One student created two usable branding logos, earning them a $500 thank you.

Working with local resources to give back and not be absentee owners resonates.

“We want to be part of a community,” Charnes said. “We don't just want to run a business.”

Slowed by the holiday season, restaurant construction has picked up steam towards a tentative mid-March opening. The Local Yolkal Café eyes an exciting springtime ribbon cutting.