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Brunchery moving its grits south

By ERNEST HOOPER
Published May 18, 2007


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In 19 years, the quaint and friendly restaurant known as the Brunchery became a special place for area residents.

So it's not surprising that customers have pledged to follow owner Kevyn Farley to her new location in Lithia.

For some people, the Brunchery is the first place their kids ever had a meal out. Amid the rooster knickknacks at the Brandon restaurant, toddlers had their first taste of grits. If the parents were pressed for time, they could call ahead and order pancakes for the little ones.

Not only would the order be waiting for the eager family, owner Kevyn Farley would cut up the pancakes for the kids.

For stay-at-home moms and busy professional women, it served as the perfect backdrop for getaway gatherings. It wasn't uncommon to find relieved moms relaxing at a table on the first day of school.

For local businessmen, the country ambience and warm coffee proved steady amid Brandon's explosive growth.

Farley, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Bill, will close the doors after Sunday. They'll reopen Thursday at a new and larger location in the Riverhills Shopping Plaza on Lynx Paw Trail near Lithia Springs Elementary School.

The 6.2-mile move comes with mixed emotions.

"I am excited to have brand new electricity and plumbing, " Kevyn said. "But I've put my heart and soul have been in this building for 19 years. I'm scared. I'm exhausted."

Business today can't compare to when she first opened the doors with her late brother, Michael Russo. On that first day, she had 23 customers. Today, they serve a daily average of 200. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, customers typically wait up to 30 minutes for a table.

Michael McDermott, a lawyer who practices in Brandon, was there that opening day.

"I used to drive from my home in Carrollwood to eat breakfast at the Brunchery. Kevyn and her brother, Michael, took personal care of us and treated us as if we were family. They were very pleasant and it stayed that way all these years, " he said.

Customers from the Lithia/FishHawk Ranch area have pleaded for years for a second location, but concerns about dividing the customer base always dimmed those requests, Bill Farley said.

Moving south, however, made more sense after a survey revealed that about three-fourths of the Brunchery's customers live in the Valrico area.

In choosing a corner location, the Farleys believe they have an ideal spot. The developer built the spot for a restaurant. Drivers will have easier access than the Oakfield Drive location, and they can easily spot the restaurant from Lithia-Pinecrest Road.

"We can't wait to just do it a little better, " Bill Farley said.

After Kevyn cleared the walls in the old location, customers took time out to write messages on the walls. Some north Brandon folks wrote they would miss her. Kevyn has taken customers' pictures and will put them on a board at the new spot. When they arrive to eat, the picture will come down.

Most of the messages, however, saluted her for being a part of their lives, and promised to follow wherever she goes. After all, many of the babies she held in her arms have returned to take orders and bus tables.

"I've had so many of the customers' children come back and work here, " Kevyn said. "I'm looking right now and two of my girls who went to high school here and are now in college have come back to work for the summer.

"They first came in when they were 3-year-olds. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry."

Ernest Hooper also writes a column for the Tampa & State section. He can be reached at hooper@sptimes.com or 813 226-3406.

[Last modified May 17, 2007, 06:53:22]


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