STARKE – You can see Grannie smiling at you from the highway –
at least from the bright yellow sign that advertises the little diner known as Grannie’s County Cookin’, and where the image of Pam “Grannie” Snider appears to be offering a warm, hearty smile that says to motorists, Come on, stop in, sit for a spell.
As it turns out, that friendly attitude extends to the staff inside this very appealing diner, where the service is fast and the waitresses enjoy chatting as they take your order.
“Where are you from?” my waitress asked me, and when I said Orlando, and looked at me a bit skeptically and added, “Originally?”
I shook my head, and confessed it was Massachusetts. She nodded and said “I knew we had a Yankee in here.” And as she went back behind the counter to place my order, she added, “That’s okay, honey, I’m one, too – Philadelphia.”
Grannie’s County Cookin’ is one of those family-owned restaurants that looks and feels different from the well-known chains. Located right on U.S. 301 in downtown Starke, this restaurant has an attractive seven-panel bay window that looks out on the highway. There are booths by the window, tables in the middle, and seats by the counter.
While you’re waiting for your meal, you have time to check out Grannie’s quirky decorations, from the tea pots that line the window sill to the array of decorative plates hanging above the counter.
Then there are signs everywhere, like the one that reads “Our coffee is so good .. we even drink it ourselves,” or “Well, Butter my Butt and Call me a Biscuit.” My favorite was probably “Save Time – Do It My Way,” which is probably everybody’s secret philosophy in life.
On the back wall is a large chalk board that lists the diner’s daily specials – on this chilly Monday morning, they promised to heat you up with not only the strong coffee, but also a plate of biscuits and gravy with two eggs for $2.99, or a bacon and cheese omelet for $5.99 – obviously not a budget busting menu. At the bottom of the chalk board, the staff wrote “Good Morning, Y’all” as a way to greet the early customers.
I ended up ordering two eggs over easy, grits and toast – and my total bill was less than $6. The fact that Grannie’s cooks know how to do eggs and grits to perfection doesn’t hurt much, either.
Grannie’s Country Cookin’ advertises breakfast served all day, with plates like the Grannie’s Omelet Supreme for $6.79. But there are some other options as well, including the interesting lunch specials that have a decidedly Southern twist, like the Smoked Ham Dinner, or the plate of gizzards (for $8.09), or, interestingly, a Half & Half Liver Plate – a mix of chicken livers and gizzards, for $9.18.
It’s a relaxing place, in a small town with a charming Historic District that includes buildings dating back to the Civil War era – and a main industry that not all communities would be happy to welcome, the state prison system. The Florida Department of Corrections has several prisons here, which helps keep the locals employed, and on the wall of Grannie’s Country Cookin’ is a reminder of this industry: a large poster by A-1 Bail Bonds, offering nationwide 24 hour service for anyone who gets thrown in jail.
Grannie’s Country Cookin’ is open daily, from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays. There are also Grannie’s restaurants in Ruskin and Crystal River.
The one in Starke is at 367 N. Temple Ave. To learn more, call 904-964-5810.
If you happen to be traveling through this part of Alachua or Bradford County and enjoy fine southern-style country cooking, Grannie’s is the ideal place to stop at. Be prepared to have some pleasant conversations with the waitress, too. This is no place for grumpy folks.
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