Every day, millions of people eat breakfast at chain restaurants like Denny’s and IHOP. Although Denny’s has totally worn me out, I do eat at an IHOP now and then when I meet a certain friend for breakfast. For real quality food, however, I don’t look for either of these logos.
There’s no guarantee a Mom and Pop neighborhood restaurant is going to have wonderful food. Some are very mediocre, but when you find such a place that really does have good food, it can beat the chains hands down. Such a place is Rise & Shine, a neighborhood restaurant in southwest Fort Worth.
Steve and Christie Phan have been running this restaurant for twelve years or so. In that time, they’ve built up a base of loyal customers who keep coming back—many of them several times a week. I go there anytime I get the chance.
Steve and Christie both grew up in Vietnam. Steve left to come here in 1985, and Christie, in 1994. Steve helped open a couple of restaurants before he took over this one.
Christie laughed when I asked her what got them over here. Steve came because he had family here, but he missed her once he got here. She said they grew up in the same neighborhood together but that he was too shy to let her know how he felt about her. Apparently it took the intervention of some family members to get the two of them together.
Once they got together, it didn’t take them long to start their own family. Their older daughter just graduated from high school, and their younger daughter is in third grade. Both girls spend time at the restaurant now and then, and both are attractive, well-behaved young ladies.
Steve does the cooking, and Christie is the manager and cashier. Both are friendly with customers, although Christie is much more outgoing than Steve. She kids with a lot of us about breakfast being free tomorrow. Of course, we all know tomorrow never comes.
Steve has two particular claims to fame. The first thing new customers notice about his cooking is that he is fast. Seems like the waitresses barely get the orders turned in before he calls to them to come pick them up. Yes, he calls them. They don’t use bells or such devices. He calls the waitress’s name at a volume that can be heard all over the restaurant. That’s part of the unique charm of the place.
Steve’s other claim to fame is that HE CAN COOK. I love omelets, and I like them soft. Those who know me know that I don’t like anything well-done and dried out. Steak, biscuits, eggs—it doesn’t make any difference. I want it soft and moist. When I’m anywhere else, I rarely even try to get an omelet cooked to my liking. The cooks just can’t make one soft enough to suit me. Steve can. His omelets always come out exactly as I like them.
His hash browns are better than anyone else’s, too. Most restaurants grate them into such thin little strips they can’t keep from making them dry—and usually burned. Steve grates his more in the shape of shoestrings. Then he must cook them in actual grease at a reasonable temperature, because they’re always moist and never burned.
You might wonder if he just undercooks everything, but he doesn’t. I hear other customers order crisp hash browns, well-done eggs, crisp toast and so forth, and he gets theirs right also. We customers consider Steve a treasure and feel fortunate to have him.
Since Christie is the manager, I assume she’s responsible for assembling the wait staff. Maybe he helps—I don’t know. But with or without his help, she does a great job of it. I’ve told her before that in most restaurants I have a favorite waitress and always try to sit in her section, but at Rise & Shine they’re all wonderful. They’re all friendly and give attentive service. And when they have a few extra minutes, they’ll sit down and visit, or at least stop by the booth and visit.
In future posts, I’ll be presenting these wonderful ladies to you one at a time. I consider all of them friends, and I hope they consider me one, too.
What do you look for in picking a restaurant? Which meals are your favorite for eating out, breakfast, lunch or supper?
WANA: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
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When was the last time that yolu were there? I found dead roaches in the booth where I was sitting. There was a waitress, Melissa, that was very rude and didn’t aknowledge my complaint about the bugs.
Sorry you had such an experience. I’ve never had anything like that, and Melissa has never been anything but polite and sweet to me or other patrons when I’ve been there.
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Great post. We had a few favorite breakfast spots when we lived in CA but that was many years ago. Since that time, our lives have changed drastically. Yes, I remember a favorite place in Oregon where they always saved a huge round table in the back for us because they knew we wouldn’t arrive until 11:30 or so and they knew the people that would be joining us. If anyone of our group showed up, they were seated. It was a lot of fun and we usually hung out well into the afternoon swapping stories, etc. Now that I’m retired, my day doesn’t start until around noon but breakfast is still my favorite meal of the day. We have a coffee house we frequent when Tom feels well enough and I take along a Glucerna drink for the protein and enjoy my latte. Again, it’s the people that come and go while we are there plus the owners that take us there time and time again. I usually take my i-Pad and Tom a sketch book.
When I went for breakfast this morning, Christie told me she let Steve read the blog and that his head was now swelled so big he could hardly carry it. I told her he deserves it.
Very nice review of Rise and Shine, David. I have also enjoyed going there with you … and look forward to it my next visit. Barb
I also agree with your premise that the Mom/Pop places are often the best. So much more personal than a chain. I think I’d like to try your Rise and Shine restaurant next time I’m up there!
Can you come tomorrow, Lynn? Anytime.
What do I look for in a restaurant? Exactly what you describe, David. This sounds like the kind of place that warrants a Saturday morning breakfast adventure.
A place that cooks to order? Delivers food quickly? Has an uncanny knack for hiring wait staff with personalities that match the sunny-side of eggs? Free breakfasts tomorrow? There is nothing NOT to love about that type of atmosphere.
For the record, I’ll be one of the customers ordering my hash browns on the brown and crispy cusp of burnt.
I look forward to meeting the people who fill your coffee cup and tummy on the mornings you RISE and SHINE.
It would be a long drive for you, Gloria, but I’ll meet you there anytime you’re up to the trip. It’s about a mile south of I-20 between McCart and Trail Lake.
It’s a deal, David! I’ll email when I’m ready for a road trip.