Sweet Home Alabama: Then and Now – 12 Years Later

Virgie’s Cafe (Real name: Bonner’s Cafe)
This is the cafe where Melanie’s attorney, Mr. Buford, visited in hopes of finding her so she could sign the divorce papers before getting married to Andrew. This scene was shot in early December 2001, but it wasn’t the first time Bonner’s Cafe appeared in a movie. The cafe can also be seen in the 1991 film, Carolina Skeletons, featuring Louis Gossett Jr.

Mrs. Annie Lou Bonner opened the cafe in 1923 and it was the only spot in town to eat a delicious home-cooked meal, according to a couple of locals we spoke with during our visit. It was also a popular hang out where the locals gathered to stay up to date on the latest gossip. Bonner’s Cafe was a little different than the cafes we visit today in that it didn’t have menus. Instead, Mrs. Bonner would dictate what each customer would eat.

There was one item served at the cafe that didn’t need to be showcased on a menu though: Mrs. Bonner’s Sweet Potato Pie. Mrs. Bonner was well known throughout the South for her yummy sweet potato pie after the bright-color pie was featured in Jane and Michael Stern’s book entitled “Two For The Road: Our Love Affair With American Food.” For those who want to give it a try, the recipe is available online so feel free to check it out.

After 74 years in business, Bonner’s Cafe closed its doors in 1997. While other cafes opened in its place, none had long term success. Today, the space is littered with dusty tables, empty soda cans, and a antique cash register. At the time of this writing, the building is currently on the market.

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