What's The Deal With Brunch?

Mar 9, 2018

Brunch is a time where you can eat breakfast or lunch, get something sweet or savory, and after a certain time – an alcoholic beverage.

 

Atlanta has quite the brunch scene, so I decided to drop by a busy Midtown restaurant one Sunday morning and dig into the culture of brunch.

 

 

 


 

It’s nearly 1:30 PM, and Lindsay Grubbs is thankful for two things – her friends, and the cocktail in front of her.

 

As law school students, Grubbs and her friends use brunch to catch up and unwind from the stresses of the week.

 

But their theoretical lessons took on a more practical tone when they tried to order drinks.

 

Lindsay Grubbs is celebrating her birthday with her sisters while brunching at 10th and Piedmont.
Credit Stephen Fowler/GPB

 

“Well we came and made our reservation at eleven thirty thinking that was the time that you can order alcohol,” Grubbs said. And then she told us that the bar didn't open till later. So we ordered food and then said come back over whenever the bar opens

 

We’re at 10th and Piedmont, where fried chicken and waffles, bottomless mimosas and upbeat music swirl together into the perfect stereotype for a Sunday brunch.

 

But there’s more than meets the eye, both for the restaurant and the luxurious midday meal.

That’s Farha Ternikar, an associate professor of sociology at Le Moyne College in New York.

 

She wrote the book on brunch in 2014, and says the meal started as this midday celebration by the English elite after a morning of hunting.

 

Brunch back then represented this sort of fancy, special status, hearty foods, and a break from the norm.

 

 

In the U.S., New Orleans and New York kicked off the brunch scene as a conspicuous sign of taste in EVERY sense of the word.

 

Fast forward to the 1920s and brunch appears in etiquette guides and advice columns. A 1939 article in the New York Times declares Sunday a “two-meal day.”

 

Ternikar says until the late 80s, brunch was still a primarily white and well-to-do meal, and pop culture reflected that.

Take this scene from The Simpsons, where the fancy bowling instructor Jacques Cousteau tries to take the married Marge Simpson out on a date to brunch.

 

Back at the restaurant, there may not be cantaloupe, but you will find an eclectic mix of people that decidedly don’t fit the definition of a historic brunching crowd.

 

Sybil Pennix, an African-American woman, is one of them.

 

She’s celebrating her birthday with her sisters, and says she loves brunch for its relaxing atmosphere and accessibility to anyone.

 

"It's everybody can enjoy brunch it's all different genres, different people, different walks of life, different colors, different ages, everybody can brunch. It's like the time of day that gives you life."

 

 

That’s music to the ears of Gilbert Yeremian, owner of 10th and Piedmont. He says popularity of brunch has transcended Sunday afternoons and crept over into other days of the week.  

 

"Yeah people love our brunch, and we sometimes do specials on evenings on Monday or Tuesday, and brunch is always a part of the menu in some way."

 

Brunch has evolved from a meal of the hunting elite to an integral part of many people’s weekend routine, but the TV show Seinfeld asks a great question about the name: