The downtown eatery in Florence may have changed owners and the name, but its tradition of good food, unique atmosphere and simple charm are the same.
On the Corner Cafe at 503 Main St., formerly Auntie M?s Diner, is a dream come true for new owner Tammy Britton, who opened Jan. 2 .
The former owner, Mary Britton, wanted to remain in business, but because of health issues, she decided to close the doors Dec. 31.
?Florence has lost a lot,? Tammy said about buying the restaurant and keeping it open.
In the coming months, she said she plans to expand on daily specials and her homemade pies.
The former owner also had daily specials, but she would have two different ones each day.
?I have added a breakfast special, and plan to have one daily special for lunch and supper,? she said.
Her recent breakfast special was scrambled eggs, diced ham and homemade hashbrowns.
Daily specials, she said, have included beer-battered fish, goulash and shepard?s pie.
One customer praised her polish reuben special.
?It is made using a grilled hoagie bun, splitting a polish sausage and then adding cheese and sauerkraut.
?It is so good, and everyone that had it really enjoyed it,? she said.
One tradition Tammy said she plans on keeping is the hand-cut french fries her predecessor started making.
She said she?s also changing from frozen hamburger to fresh ground hamburger.
Other new items will be homemade pies, and each week she plans to alternate them.
?Last week,? she said, ?the pies included lemon cream cheese, butterscotch cream cheese, coconut cream and peach.?
Prior to those pies, she said she made apple, cherry, chocolate cream cheese, pecan and rhubarb.
Another idea Tammy said she would like to implement would be enlarging the patio area, but that can wait until spring or early summer.
?I also took a couple things off the menu and varied it a little,? she said. ?We will continue to have a full breakfast menu and to go menu.?
No stranger to restaurants
Owning a restaurant is something new, Tammy said, but working in a restaurant isn?t.
?My mother, Sharon, owned and operated Sharon?s Korner Kitchen in Peabody for 19 years before she sold it,? Tammy said.
After selling the restaurant, Tammy?s mother is now offering catering services.
Prior to owning the restaurant, she said she also worked at Auntie M?s during the summer months as a cook and waitress.
It was part-time work, she said, because she also enjoyed driving a school bus and helping with summer recreation programs.
Some things won?t change, though.
?We have 11 employees,? Tammy said.
In addition to being the owner and operator, she will also be cooking.
?I have two other cooks, five waitresses and four dish washers,? she said.
She is keeping the same hours, too.
?We will be open seven days a week an open every morning at 5:30 a.m.,? she said. ?Monday through Thursday until 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays until 8 p.m. and Sundays from 5:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.
?Sunday is a big day with our roasted chicken special.?
When Tammy said she bought Auntie M?s, the former owner left her virtually everything.
The one area Tammy said she is still learning about is ordering and making schedules.
?I just need to get into my groove,? she said.
?A lot of people come in and will say, ?What does it feel like to own the business???
In response, Tammy said she will tell customers that she has been used to working, and it feels the same as it did the day before.
As for people frequenting the restaurant, she said she has gotten a warm reception.
?The evenings have been slow, but I am hoping it?s because of the colder weather,? she said.
Trayce Warner, a customer and one of the Florence city councilors, said she hopes she gets support from the community.
?She has taken a big step buying the cafe, not just because it?s been her dream, but also because she?s doing her part to keep downtown Florence alive,? Warner said.
Scott Zogelman, a Florence businessman, and one of the regulars at the cafe, said he believes the food quality is great and the service friendly?similar to how it was when Mary Britton owned and operated it.
Tammy has three children to include daughter Derian, 16, who also works as a waitress, Madison, 14, and Dalton, 7.