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What's For Lunch?

What's For Lunch?by Cathy BryantCopyright 2002http://www.homebizjunction.comAs an entrepreneur, I'm always intrigued by small businesses,home-based or not, that exceed the expectations of theircustome...

What's For Lunch?
by Cathy Bryant
Copyright 2002

As an entrepreneur, I'm always intrigued by small businesses,
home-based or not, that exceed the expectations of their
customers in a big way.

Let me tell you about one of them.

Recently I spent some time with my daughter in her college town
of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We were spending the day getting her
apartment ready for her return to school in the fall. When it
was time for lunch, she wanted to take me to a restaurant in the
small town of Northport, just to the north of Tuscaloosa.

Northport is one of those typical southern small towns whose
downtown area has been converted into a delightfully quaint
shopping area. Central to it is a restaurant called City Cafe.

What an experience.

We arrived at the location at 11:30 a.m. Typically I like going
to restaurants for lunch at that time so that one can "beat the
rush." I commented on this to my daughter before we arrived;
she just laughed.

When we walked in, I understood why. I faced a room with

1) a lunch counter to the left (full)
2) booths to the right (full)
3) a line that stretched all the way to the back wall and
then circled around.

Like visitors to Disney World, we automatically took our place at
the end of the line. Then I began to look toward the front of
the line and realized that it continued on into another room
(which I couldn't see). So I asked my daughter, "where is the
FRONT of this line?"

Her response - "you'll see."


So I began to look around at the diners surrounding me. Their
plates were piled high with what can only be described as
"down home Southern cooking." And the diners themselves?
A quick glance around the room told me that this establishment
attracted customers from every walk of life. At this moment,
however, they all had one thing in common - the serious business
of eating.

Meanwhile, the aroma was making my mouth water. So I turned my
attention back to the ultimate end of the line. When would I
have my turn?

About 15 minutes later we made our way to the next room. It was
there I discovered that the front of the line ended at the
doorway between this room and yet ANOTHER room. Both of these
rooms had two rows of booths on either side. I didn't count
them, but my estimate is about six on each side of the room,
making about 24 booths in total. They could sit as many as four
to a booth.

I looked around for a hostess; there was none. Then I began to
understand the system; you waited in line with your party, and
when someone got up from one of these booths, you just went and
sat down. Period.

The waitress appeared at our table almost instantaneously,
cleared off the previous diners' plates, wiped the table, and
took our drink orders. Actually, what she said was, "Tea?" And
you're an idiot if you order anything else. It's important to
note here that if you order tea anywhere in the Deep South, it
is understood that it comes iced and sweetened. If you want it
any other way, you'd better tell them that.

Time to check out the menu. It was at this time I realized that
City Cafe operates five days a week only - Monday through
Friday. The lunch menu consisted of your choice of entree and/or
vegetables which you chose from the list for that particular day
of the week. The price of the meal was determined by the number
of vegetables and entrees you chose.

This was Tuesday; my choices included fried green tomatoes. Who
was I to pass this up? Beef tips with rice and steamed squash
rounded out my meal, but I could just as easily have chosen from
a dozen other tempting selections. It was tough to pass up
the fried okra and steamed cabbage (my daughter chose the
cabbage along with chicken-fried steak), but I was pleased with
my meal. Dinner rolls and cornbread were, of courseFree Articles, provided
as well.

And the tea? Try drinking it to the bottom of the glass - won't
happen at City Cafe. It's another person's job to make sure of

The price for both our meals? I spent $10.75 - but $3.00 of that
was a tip. No kidding. She and I had dined at a well-known
restaurant chain the night before and the tip for that meal was
the same as the price of the City Cafe meal itself.

Guess which one I enjoyed the most?

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