ATHENS, Ga. - The iconic Athens restaurant that inspired the R.E.M. album title "Automatic for the People" is in danger of closing, but regulars are determined to keep it open.
The owner of Weaver D's says he is two months behind on his bills. After 26 years in business in the same location, Dexter Weaver has learned in this economy, survival is not automatic.
After years of worldwide attention, Weaver said he's seen days when hardly anyone shows up for a meal.
"We were sitting around looking at each other, wishing upon a customer," said Weaver.
There was a time when Weaver D's stayed crowded with regulars and tourists eager to know what made the restaurant album cover material.
Two years ago, the customers started to vanish.
"A lot of people out of work, a lot of plants cut back," said Weaver. "We were just not getting a lot of regulars. We waited for the students to come, and that didn't happen. We figured the football games would bring people in, and that didn't happen either."
The city of Athens was shocked to find a message on Weaver D's Facebook page. Dexter Weaver warned that he was so far behind on his bills, the restaurant could close unless his fans filled his tables.
Ever since, the restaurant has had a line waiting to order.
This place is definitely worth saving," said customer Merv Waldrop. "The food's incredible. The atmosphere, the culture, you don't get this anywhere else."
Customers are trying to save more than a business known for inspiring a Grammy winning band. Many are here for Dexter.
"He's got the most awesome personality," said customer Deborah Ward. "All his staff, they're wonderful loving people. The friendliness, the love and compassion of him, he's just an awesome man."
Dexter Weaver is hopeful. Someone has offered to buy his building if that would save the restaurant.
Through it all, his smile and laughter have remained automatic for the people.