Remember their faces

'Cookie Man'

Eric Atwater is the son of Elzo Sr. and Mattie Atwater, who opened Atwater's Cafeteria in St. Petersburg's Midtown section 41 years ago. After his parents died, Atwater took over operations at the award-winning soul food restaurant at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 22nd Avenue S.

Atwater, 31, is known as "Cookie Man" because of his baking abilities.

Atwater opened My City Fashions two years ago in an empty storefront attached to the cafeteria. He sells jeans and shorts by Dickies and MFG and several different T-shirt brands at the store.

Atwater's signature items are his "R.I.P." T-shirts. He emblazons the shirts with hand-painted transfers bearing the likenesses of friends or family members who have died. Prices vary, and sometimes Atwater donates shirts for funerals. "When there was a lot of killing going on [this summer], we were busy," he laments.

Every August, Atwater donates clothes, shoes and school supplies to kids in the neighborhood. "I don't need the money," he says. "My business is a tool to motivate people to do other positive things."


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