It was with no small degree of trepidation when Becky Grainger called the Stanford on Main restaurant Sunday morning. It was the first day the restaurant was open on a Sunday, but she could not be there when it had opened at 8 a.m. She was at the Stanford Inn and had just finished serving breakfast there.
She let out a sigh of relief when she called restaurant executive chef Pam Brown.
“I called at one point and she said, ‘I can’t talk to you, it’s busy,’” said Grainger.
It would not be until 11 a.m., when Grainger would be able to get to the restaurant. At that moment there was a lull in the activity, with only two tables filled with people; a party of four at one table, a couple at another table.
“Everybody that came in said it was because of the article (that ran in the Jan. 5 edition of The Polk County Democrat),” said Erin Paul, the only server working that morning, on duty since 7:48 a.m.; other servers would not arrive until shortly before 11 a.m. “They were happy with the food and service, and (people) said they would come back.”
However, not everyone at the restaurant was as a result of the article. The couple seated at a table — David and Kim Caudill, from Lakeland — had come to town to visit a friend. Since it was early, they had decided to tour the downtown.
“We walked by, saw the sign,” said David Caudill.
Soon after, their meals would arrive. He had ordered a Monte Cristo. The sandwich was so huge he could not believe it. “I’ve never seen something quite like that.” A short while later the server asked what he thought. “Fabulous.”
His wife, Kim, also had words of praise for her meal.
“It’s really good,” she said.
Learning the Caudills were from out of town prompted Grainger to speculate.
“I’ve wondered how many other people have come into downtown Bartow on a Sunday and not find anything,” she pondered.
Part of what induced the Graingers to open on Sunday were requests by a few ministers in town who were also Stanford on Main regulars. Grainger admitted she wondered whether they would have any sway upon parishioners.
Not too long after she voiced aloud that thought the first of the churchgoers walked through the door, Sylvia and Casey Fletcher, who had just come from Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. They would soon be joined by others.
By the time the restaurant closed, enough clients had arrived to call the first Sunday a success.
“We probably broke even,” Grainger said. What added to her optimism, she said, were the number of positive comments received, and the assurances they would return, as well as “spread the word.”
Now the hope, she said, is that Sunday business will build and at least match the business Stanford on Main does on Saturdays.
Want to go?
Stanford on Main is located at 135 E. Main St. Hours of operation are 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. All major credit cards accepted. Call 863-226-3220.