Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Smitty's

Published in the Post Register November, 2009.
It’s another busy mid-day on the weekend at Smitty’s, an Idaho Falls institution whose owners and customers span generations.

The eggs Benedict at Smitty’s is wildly popular, but at least once you must try the German pancake (also known as a “Dutch baby”). This bowl-shaped eggy dish fills a large plate to overflowing, edging over the sides before curving upward. Eaten with lemon juice and powdered sugar (or sometimes an apple mixture), the German pancake is as much an event as a meal.

“Whenever someone orders it, people all over the restaurant want to know what it is,” said manager Rosie Seymour.

Originally a franchise, Smitty’s became part of the local fabric in 1971 when Leo and Cleo Werner purchased it. Today, the Werners’ daughter, Darlene Seymour, and granddaughter, Katrina Lott, own and run the business. Three of the servers at Smitty’s have been working there for more than 20 years each.

Besides the food and familiar faces, Smitty’s is known for the oil paintings of local artist Werner Gisin, who died in 2006. The restaurant once sold Gisin’s paintings, but now they’re just there to look at.

“All of the paintings my mom liked would sell,” said Lott. “So we bought the ones we wanted to keep.”

Over the years, Smitty’s has become known as a breakfast place, but Lott is trying to recapture the dinner crowd with new menu choices geared toward a little younger crowd. A good share of the regular clientele at Smitty’s consists of children or grandchildren of people who started coming here in nearly 40 years ago.

“I hear that a ton,” Lott said. “We know a lot of people not necessarily by name but by what they order.”

The restaurant business is unforgiving and fickle. Does Lott every get up in the morning and not feel like going to work?

“Never,” she says.

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