Southern cooking at Rita’s Way Cafe

Rita's Way Cafe Chef Rita (left), and Tina, who cook during the day (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)Chef Rita (left), and Tina, the day shift cook (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Rita’s Way Cafe is on Terrell Mill Road, nearly hidden away in a small strip center next to a side entrance of the Walmart that faces Cobb Parkway.  It opened two months ago and serves an extensive menu of southern cooking and lunch specials.

The Courier spoke with the owner, Mableton resident Chef Rita, about her restaurant.

She said, “It’s me and my two children and then we have one other lady who comes and helps us out in the daytime. I always worked for corporate offices, and corporate locations and corporate kitchens.  So I decided to step out on faith and open my own restaurant.  We found this location through a realtor and I noticed there are not a lot of southern chains or southern restaurants in this area.”

The restaurant is open six days a week, she said. “We’re the home of the 7-dollar lunch. So from 11 to 2, you can order off our lunch menu, and we have daily specials every day.  We have our chalkboard, and we put our different specials up there. We’re open 11 to 8 Tuesday through Saturday, and then on Sundays, we open 11 through 6,  and it’s more southern on Sunday, so we have the homemade chicken and dressing, your yams, and your fried chicken.”


The regular menu includes appetizers, chicken and waffles, burgers and sandwiches, and fried chicken sandwich.

“It’s called ‘Rita’s spicy chicken sandwich’,” she said. “So if you’ve ever been to Nashville Tennessee, everybody knows about  Prince’s  Hot Chicken.  Of course, I could never copy Prince’s Hot Chicken  … I wish I could, but I really love spice, so we have that spicy chicken sandwich that we’re known for with our citrus mayo. And then we also have our whiting fish sandwich.  Everybody loves a fish sandwich.  And then we have cubed steak and gravy, with your mashed potatoes and gravy.  We have our collard greens with turkey meat.  And also our mac and cheese.  We actually cook the mac and cheese to order in little small skillets.”

She said fresh vegetables are a feature of the menu. “Our cabbage we cook to order … our zucchini, squash, cauliflower … everything here is fresh.”

Desserts change daily. “Today it’s brownies.  Tomorrow may be bread pudding or chess pie.  Chess pie is a southern custard-based pie.  The guests really love it.” she said.

Asked how business has been over the two months the restaurant has been open, she said, “It’s been picking up. I actually just picked up a catering with Lexus of Smyrna, so we have two caterings this Saturday.  One for Lexus, and one for a private event.  Business is slowly picking up every day, and you know, word of mouth.  People say ‘We saw you on Instagram’ or ‘Our friends ate there.”

She and her family live in Mableton. “I moved from Myrtle Beach in 2013, and we moved to Cobb County.  We lived in Austell first, and then we moved to Mableton four years ago, so we love it.  My kids love it.  My daughter’s about to graduate from high school and go off to college.  She comes over after school, as well as my son, so they’re my night team, my two children.  They’re 15 and 17,” she said.

When asked about the challenges of opening a business, she said the main problem she had was delays in opening caused by contractors.

“I was supposed to have been open in March, and we didn’t open until August.  So just make sure that your contractors are really licensed, and even when you get their information dig really deep because I had to rehire.  Do a background and reference checks on the contractors that you’re going to use because they will hold you up from opening.  You’re already on a budget, and it’ll just blow it over.  When I get my second location I’ll know what to do and what not to do.”

Rita’s Way Cafe is located at 1854 Terrell Mill Rd Suite 113, Marietta, GA 30067. For more information and menu visit their website here.


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