What makes a small town restaurant so appealing? Is it the closeness of the town, the “home-like” feel to it, or simply the fact that the entire staff know and care for their customers? At Family Tree Cafe in downtown DeWitt, it’s a little bit of all three.
“It is a great, family-owned local restaurant,” said Lisa Bartlett, a citizen of DeWitt and Family Tree Cafe customer. “We’ve been customers there for about a year and a half. It is a nice gathering place where we often known people in there and the service is great.”
Family Tree Cafe has been in downtown Dewitt for over two years now, but it only recently has been co-owned by Tim Russell and his family.
“We all have backgrounds in the restaurant business,” said Russell. “My brother Steve and sisters Anna and Sue, we all are equal partners at the restaurant.”
Russell started working with his neighbor in the restaurant business in 2009 after losing his job the year before. He admits, that it’s definitely better owning a restaurant, compared to working for one.
“It has been a good experience,” said Russell. “There’s really no comparison to being in a big business chain to owning one yourself and it’s just great getting to know all the people.”
While Russell prides himself on wanting the restaurant to have a family feel that the whole town can enjoy, his employees feel that way too.
Ann Symonds is a server and manager at Family Tree Cafe, and she actually has a connection with Russell that extends beyond just the restaurant.
“I grew up with Tim and his family,” said Symonds. “We reconnected a few years ago when he hired me and it’s been such a great place for me to work since.”
While some may assume that working in a restaurant could be tiresome and not as rewarding, Symonds has loved her time at Family Tree Cafe.
“It has been such a positive experience for me,” she said. “There’s nothing I would really change here, it’s a great place to work because they really care about their employees and their families.”
While offering great, friendly service to those in the area, Family Tree Cafe’s menu consists of several surprises as far as to how it is prepared.
“Everything is locally sourced and fresh, and a lot of things are made right here on site too,” said Symonds.
When first starting the restaurant, Russell knew he wanted to use both local and homemade products in his restaurant. Despite a few challenges, Russell believes they accomplished that.
“Our kitchen’s capacity isn’t very big so I call it the little kitchen that couldn’t,” Russell joked. “However, the menu is all homestyle comfort food and we try to make as much as we can from scratch at the restaurant.”
The menu comes equipped with really anything you want at your local restaurants. A breakfast menu, lunch and dinner options, and, of course, daily specials that are also homemade and locally produced.
“My favorite item on the menu is the spinach pie,” said Symonds. “It’s homemade and absolutely wonderful.”
Just like the experience you will get at Family Tree Cafe.