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Lawhon#039;s Too opens in Brantley

Don and Robin Lawhon can remember the long hours and longer nights the pair devoted to their family-owned restaurant in Luverne when it first opened a little over three years ago.

Robin also recalls her initial reaction when Don said they should purchase a building in Brantley and turn it into another restaurant.

"I think the first thing I thought was 'are you out of your mind?'" She says, laughing. Robin - and Don as well - remembers the work they put in together to get Lawhon's off the ground, working without any help those first few months. She waited tables while Don cooked. There is some disagreement about who actually washed all the dishes. Don claims he washed his 'fair share' but does concede that Robin did clean the bathrooms.

The idea for a similar restaurant in Brantley came via suggestion by a family friend. Don took that suggestion, ran with it and discovered the asking price for the building - once a teen center owned by a local church - was well within reason.

After three months of extensive renovation, Lawhon's Too held its grand opening last Monday. Don said the name of the restaurant was the easy to think of because people kept asking him, 'is it going to be a Lawhon's, too?'

"We've done great here so far," says Don. "People have been real supportive. Even when were busy renovating this place, someone would stop by everyday and ask us when we were opening up."

Don expects the new restaurant to equal or even exceed the one in Luverne, especially since it is situated directly on U.S. Highway 331, always heavy with traffic on the weekends.

Robin, who teaches Spanish at Brantley, Luverne and Highland Home high schools during the school year, was even bombarded with questions about the new restaurant from her students everyday.

Lawhon's Too features two separate dining areas, The Caf/ and The Vineyard. Paintings and small plants line the freshly painted walls in each dining area, giving Lawhon's Too an elegant, yet comfortable feel.

Don says there are 'subtle' differences between the menus of each restaurant, but they haven't been changed much because the food is a big reason people come to Lawhon's. Some of the menu items Robin acquired from an out-of-business restaurant she worked for in Georgia, but a majority of the buffet items comes courtesy of Don's expertise around the kitchen.

Don says he first learned to cook when he was five years old, sitting on a cinder block in front of his grandmother's stove.

"The first thing she taught me to cook was bread pudding," he says. "I thought it was interesting so I stayed with it."

Robin says the first place Don heads to in the grocery store is the spice aisle. She remembers when money was short she'd only allow Don to purchase two or three of the spices he wanted.

"Because some of those spices are expensive," she says.

"You just develop a taste for spices," says Don about cooking. "It's trial and error. I'm bad about taking a recipe and changing ingredients. And there are times when I've come up with something that tasted divine, but I couldn't remember how I made it."

Unlike Lawhon's, Lawhon's Too also serves breakfast. They also serve the same iced tea, named by WAKA in 2004 as the 'Best Sweet Tea.' Lawhon's beat out 92 other competitors for the crown.