Dining out in Newnan can be an adventure. Located at 30 Perry Street Newnan, GA 30263, one block off the Court Square, Cuisine of Peru has become an essential part of the old downtown section of Newnan, which prides itself as the “City of Homes.”
Well now, I’ve been to many a city, and have keenly observed the fact that all of them are filled with homes, all kinds of homes: large ones, small ones, old ones, new ones.
So why, I asked the friend I was visiting, perhaps somewhat facetiously, why is Newnan the city of homes? We stood at the corner of the square walking home from a Peruvian lunch. Waiting with several others – there’s lots of foot traffic in old town Newnan – for the light to change, I looked up and observed an old-fashioned marquee sitting atop the cut-stone building of the Newnan Carnegie Library. It said: “City of Homes.”
My friend, a true son of the south, told me the story. “Cast your mind back to the horrible days of the Civil War. Sherman was marching down to Savannah, burning everything in his path. As he came toward Newnan, intent upon leveling the town, he came upon a large number of Confederate soldiers, themselves on their way to somewhere. They were traveling by railroad. Sherman chased after the detachment, thus getting sidetracked from besieging Newnan. He told his men that he would return when he go the chance. But he never did. And eventually, he arrived at Savannah. The Savannah city fathers were rather cagey. They met Sherman outside the city and bribed him with an offer of a fine southern mansion for his very own. To keep forever, not just during his stay in Savannah. It is said that he accepted the offer; and when the dreadful war was over, he settled in his fine Savannah home. It is also said that Sherman made a feeble attempt at burning the city, igniting only a few houses that probably needed to be raised in any case. And meanwhile, Newnan escaped being ruined. Hence the signage atop the Newnan Carnegie Library, which, by the way, is no longer the city library. The new library is out on the strip, the new Newnan that stretches for mile toward Peachtree City ten miles east. The new main street of Newnan,” he wound up, “stretches like an arrow almost to the border of Peachtree City, graced with all the zap-fast food franchises, restaurant chains, and national consumer stores imaginable. Not like old Newnan.”
My friend was out of breath.
“Not at all like old Newnan,” I murmured.
Newnan – the old part of town – is a lovely place. The center of the town is an old-fashioned courthouse square with a statue of a Confederate soldier gracing the front entrance. Just about all the buildings facing the court house date back to that era. The architecture can only be described as handsome both in shape, proportion and ornamentation. Mostly painted brick with embellishments. Two main streets run parallel to each other for about five blocks. Shops, banks, law offices, restaurants of various kinds – even am Irish Pub, a coffee bar, a bookstore, a fitness and wellness center, a hiking store, an old movie house converted to a roaring nightclub, an ice cream parlor, beauty parlors and antique shops – lots of them. These are all old fashioned, individually owned businesses. They are not quite the upscale boutiques and snazzy places one finds in big cities. These businesses have the look and feel of another era, even those that are the latest thing in entrepreneurial enterprise. The business owners in old town seem to have partially drifted back in time a bit.
There is the smell of antiquity oozing out of the old streets. The sidewalks are easily over a hundred years old, the trees more ancient.
Scattered among all this old beauty are to be seen the “uglies” of early to mid 20th century industry. A huge plant just two blocks off the square. It probably dates back to the 1920’s. The factory produces water tanks – the kind used by municipalities. They are made in sections and transported out of town by railroad, welded or riveted together at the site. The factory building is made mostly of small glass panes, some smashed [primitive air conditioning] and steel structure. Actually, the sprawling complex looks rather quaint.
Old gas stations, some fast food chicken places that predate the KFC’s of the world.
I visited Newnan during the last week in September and found myself dining at Cuisine of Peru no less than three times in seven days. That’s a record for me!
Cuisine of Peru / The Latin Zone is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Omar and Carmen Goyzueta. Both are originally from Lima, Peru, and speak both English and Spanish.
Most people in the USA don’t know what Peruvian food is like,” observes Omar. “We want to show people the variety of delicious dishes that we enjoy in Peru, so that you can enjoy them too.” Peru is known for its international fusion of flavor, from the past. 500 years of cultures mixing in the Andean region of South America.
Carmen started working in her parent’s restaurant in Lima at age 12. Her father is of Chinese decent, yet Carmen has the Mediterranean look. Her parents taught her baking. Carmen makes the most divine pastries.
Omar’s aunt and uncle passed on to him their culinary secrets. “We are eager to share with others our heritage. When you enter our restaurant, you are greeted by the sounds of traditional Andean music, the sight of Peruvian handicrafts, and the aromas of the cuisine of Peru.
Saturday night, a Peruvian band from Atlanta, Georgia filled the small restaurant with fabulous Andean sounds. The place was full. People danced between the crowded tables.
Everyone, including myself, had a night in Peru, in Newnan, Georgia.
Cuisine of Peru website: http://cuisineofperu.com