Preacher Green’s: Homestyle on the East side

When A.S. Green Sr., also known as “Preacher Green,” bought land in 1956, he planted the Green Acres seed, a now well-loved community, eventually becoming home to Paul Allen and Ted Lahey’s new restaurant, Preacher Green’s. The Cedar Shoals alumni officially welcomed the public in early April, and have been serving southern homestyle meals since.

“Our first goal and obligation is to make sure every person that comes in here has a great experience and a great meal,” Allen said.

Having attended Barnett Shoals Elementary School, Hilsman Middle School, Cedar and the University of Georgia, Allen is a certified Athenian. During college, he worked at several well-loved local restaurants, including the Mean Bean and Steverino’s, both of which are no longer open for business in town. After receiving his degree in physical education, he became the Tennis Professional and Director of Tennis at the Georgia Club.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own restaurant. It’s something that, even when I was doing tennis, I still wanted to do. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to do this,” Allen said.

Lahey, the chef and other side of the restaurant duo, has his own connection to the Classic City. As the first freshman to play in the Cedar jazz band, he has always been in tune with music. During high school, Lahey even helped found Athens jamband Day by the River in 1989.

“Music was definitely a big passion for me, but a lot of musicians don’t make a ton of money,” Lahey said.

To make up for his limited artist’s income, Lahey found himself working in various restaurants, where he saw parallels between the two industries. 

“You get that same sense of satisfaction when people enjoy it,” Lahey said. “Just like musical notes, every ingredient has been used before, but you’re trying to arrange them in a way that you can present to an audience. If your drummer is off, the rest of the band is going to be off. If your grill cook is off with his timing, then the salad might get dressed too soon, and then it gets a little too soggy.”

Following Day by the River’s disbandment, Lahey shifted away from the music scene, attending culinary school in South Carolina. Swiftly rising in his profession, he moved to New York and worked under award-winning chef Michael White. After three years, Lahey moved back down south and got married, eventually opening two restaurants of his own, Table & Main and Osteria Mattone in Roswell, Georgia. 

“I learned so much about respecting the ingredients and treating them in a way that coaxes the most flavor out of them without complicating the meal,” Lahey said.

As with all grand reunions, Lahey and Allen reconnected through Facebook. Having known each other while growing up in the same town, Allen got word that Lahey was looking to open a restaurant in the Athens area. After selling his shares of the Roswell locations, Lahey settled back home.

“We finally found this spot and both immediately thought it’d be a great fit for us so we just fully committed,” Allen said.

The co-owners secured a prime location right in the heart of the East side in the Green Acres Shopping Center. Their luck extended to the site’s history as well, which was previously a Turtle’s Records and Tapes store. After Turtle’s was sold to Blockbuster it became a memory few locals, like Lahey, recall. The sentimental value of the location further encouraged their decision to lease it.

“The building means a lot to me coming from that musical background. I discovered new music here all the time. It’s kind of a homecoming for me to be here doing this now,” Lahey said.

The restaurant holds history in more ways than one. When Preacher Green bought a 100-acre tract of land, he also founded the neighborhood and Green Acres Baptist Church as well as the shopping center, inspiring the name of Allen and Lahey’s restaurant. 

“Paul was reading in the neighborhood directory about a guy named Preacher Green, and I heard ‘Eat your greens.’ Collard greens being one of the side dishes that I want to do on the menu, I thought, ‘Paul, that’s the name. That’s it.’ It’s perfect because it tells the story of the land, the neighborhood and the East side in general. What a cool way to pay tribute to somebody that may have been forgotten,” Lahey said.

“Preacher Green’s just sounded like an old country cooking kind of place,” Allen said.


PERFECT PLATE: Ted Lahey arranges food to be served to customers during the opening night of Preacher Green’s. Lahey understands that making a restaurant run smoothly is a group effort. “If you’re in a kitchen you have to work as a team to produce the food that goes out to the table,” Lahey said. Photo by Isabella Morgan.

good green

SERVING COUNTRY: Paul Allen serves food to customers during the friends and family opening night. Photo by Isabella Morgan


SOCIAL SETTING: Diners sit together in the Preacher Green’s restaurant. Jemmay McLure (right), wife to former Cedar Shoals band director and namesake of the fine arts building, Larry McLure, was invited to the family and friends opening night. “The food was delicious, as expected,” McLure said. Photo by Isabella Morgan.

Whether by sheer luck or destiny, the co-owners seem to be endlessly entangled with Preacher Green. After Allen’s wife researched the founder on, they discovered an old address that just so happened to be the same house Lahey’s band resided in from 1995-99.

“I heard stories about it because it’s a really funky house. There’s a sister house next door that shares the original footprint but looks nothing like it. Apparently Preacher Green married into a family and the two sisters lived next door to each other so he just kept adding onto it,” Lahey said. “I was definitely aware of Preacher Green back in the ‘90s.”

These connections don’t end with Lahey. Allen currently lives with his wife and kids only a few doors down from his childhood home in the Green Acres neighborhood. By doing what they love, the co-owners continue to pay homage to Preacher Green and his legacy. 

“I’ve basically lived there my whole life, so everything feels like it’s coming full circle,” Allen said.

The restaurant’s historical roots begin even before Preacher Green bought land. Delicious food runs in the family, as Lahey’s grandfather owned an ice cream factory in Plymouth, Massachusetts from 1920-42. When he decided to join the navy during World War II, Borden Dairy bought the business.

“We have a few pictures of the sign but no one knows where the factory actually is,” Lahey said.

After settling on a fitting name for the restaurant, the duo began focusing on aesthetics. For the Preacher Green’s logo and sign proudly displayed on the building, Athens-based branding studio Calor Creative recreated the logo font from the old Lahey ice cream factory. 

“It’s one of those things that I didn’t want to lose,” Lahey said. “We wanted to make this feel like a story about our history and Athens’ history.” 

Preacher Greens’ logo design, inspired by the ice cream factory owned by Lahey’s grandfather in 1920-42.

With any successes come difficulties, a lesson the restaurant pair quickly realized. In the face of construction setbacks and budgeting concerns, the two had their share of delays.

“Even as a chef we’ve been focused on budgeting and planning. How many guests do we need to be financially viable? How do we achieve that and if we hit a plateau because of seating? How can we grow the business through catering or delivery or pickup? There are a lot of things that don’t have to do with actually making the food and providing service,” Lahey said.

While Allen and Lahey delight customers with tasty southern style food, they plan to hone their craft before considering expansion. Their future visions remain modest as they spend time being welcoming and present in the restaurant. For now, the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. for lunch, and 5-9 p.m. for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. On Sundays, they are open from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

“I think in order to deliver the kind of service that we want to, you can easily spread yourself too thin. There are a few companies that do that service very well and maybe we could get to that point someday,” Lahey said. “When we feel like we have everything humming and running well we can think about additional things like catering.”

Preacher Green’s is already thriving. The homestyle meals feel so perfectly “Athens,” honoring the restaurant’s namesake and location. Co-owners Allen and Lahey were destined to bring something new to the table.

“We are true owner-operators. We’ll be here. I’ll be supervising and cooking the food and Paul will be greeting the guests,” Lahey said. “It’s the fact that we’re here that makes this a unique restaurant.”

Kira Law

Senior Kira Law is the Co-Editor-in-Chief for her fourth year with Cedar BluePrints. She has yet to decide what career path interests her, but she enjoys film and literature. In her free time, she plays softball for the Lady Jags softball team, helps with the Cedar reader book club, and watches movies. This year in journalism, Law hopes to establish herself as someone her peers can go to for help. She appreciates the great minds of the staff and how journalism gives her more insight into the school community.

Avatar photo