My Town: Susan Hable’s Athens, Georgia

The artist and designer shares a guide to her adopted hometown

Photo: Porter McLeod

Susan Hable Smith, the Texas-born artist and designer behind textile company Hable Construction, and her husband, Pete, and their two children swapped a Big Apple apartment for a Victorian cottage in an historic Athens, Georgia, neighborhood in 2009, and they haven’t looked back since. “We have no real reason for being in Athens,” Hable says. “We were just trying to find a great place to raise our children.” The couple considered various cities in Texas, but Athens’ college-town brand of Southern hospitality proved too appealing.

“People whose families have lived here for generations are so open-minded about new people moving to town. They just opened their arms to us,” she says. When she’s not in her studio inking the bright, cheerful designs that will end up as bags, pillows, rugs, and by-the-yard fabrics, here’s where you’ll find her:

Photo: Terry Manier

Donwntown Athens; city hall.

8:30 a.m.
Breakfast Basics: “Often times my husband Pete and I will make our own Dominican coffee—we’re obsessed. But there’s a place in our neighborhood called Ike and Jane that makes the best doughnuts. On weekends we’ll take the kids and bike up there for a treat.”

“When friends come to town, there’s a beautiful bakery in Five Points called Independent Baking Co. that I’ll take them to. It’s my go-to spot for guests. They make the most fabulous croissants and crispy baguettes.”

Photo: Courtesy of Ike and Jane; Independent Baking Co.

Doughnuts at Ike & Jane; the cheerful exterior of Independent Baking Co.

9:30 a.m.
Outdoor Adventures: “In the morning, before it gets too warm, we’ll go to the Botanical Gardens for a family hike. There are tons of trails and they often host weekend events. The gardens are a little bit out there—just beyond the perimeter of the university. It’s a pretty magical place.”

Photo: Ryan Holt)

Trails at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

11:30 a.m.
Perfect Produce: “Then we’ll head to the West Broad Farmers’ Market. The market is run by the Athens Land Trust on the site of an old elementary school. And there’s an all-organic garden there too. It’s headed up by my friend Rebecca Ennis. Her produce is incredible, and she has a CSA program that locals can sign up for.”

1:00 p.m.
Out to Lunch: “My favorite place in town is the counter at ADD Drugs. It’s an old-school lunch counter in a still-operating pharmacy. I always tell people that it’s my favorite restaurant in town. I usually order a grilled cheese sandwich and a chocolate shake. You’ll see college kids ordering four cheeseburgers after a long night.”

Photo: Courtesy of ADD Drugs

Lunch counter at ADD Drugs.

2:30 p.m.
Sweet Treats: “After lunch, if we have any room left, we’ll get a treat at Condor Chocolates. It’s run by brothers Peter and Nick Dale. (Peter is the chef at the National.) And Hable Construction designed the wrappers. It’s the hippest shop.”

3:30 p.m.
Shop Local: “Within walking distance of our house, we have some incredible shopping. There’s an amazing bookstore called Avid Bookshop, and they have readings all the time. Everyone in the family loves to go.”

Photo: Courtesy of Avid Bookshop

The exterior of Avid Bookshop.

“Because I have two kids, my other favorite spot to shop is called Treehouse. It’s a kids’ shop and craft center.”

“Then there’s Agora Vintage on Broad. Airee Edwards, the owner, will go all the way to Italy to hunt up finds. She has tons of designer stuff.”

7:30 p.m.
Supper Time: “Dinner can go two ways. I might go to another of Peter’s restaurants called Seabear Oyster Bar. I love the fried clams even though they’re probably not the most gourmet item on the menu. The sautéed okra is also pretty incredible. Usually we get a bunch of plates and just share.”

“Or another friend opened Automatic Pizza, and they have root beer on tap. We can walk from our house and grab a seat at one of the picnic tables outside. It’s inside the shell of an old gas station.”

Photo: Courtesy of Seabear

A seat at the Seabear Oyster Bar.

9:00 p.m.- until
Night on the Town: “At night, of course, there’s the Georgia Theatre. We’ll go up to the roof and have a drink pre-show. Or, my husband is a huge movie buff, so we’ll head to the art house movie theater called Ciné, which is located nextdoor to the National. This summer they have been running a classic film series.”

Photo: Courtesy Athens CVB

Georgia Theatre’s restored facade.