Ernie's Restaurant and Lounge opens in Stevensville
STEVENSVILLE - How does some Stevensville Famous Pizza sound right now?
Or Stevensville Fish Fry? Or chicken and biscuits? Or maybe even some buttermilk pancakes?
Ernie's serves it right up.
Stevensville's own restaurant is open again, offering a full menu and drawing crowds.
Ernie's Restaurant and Lounge, formerly known as Frank and Mary's, opened recently under the watchful eyes of new owners Joe and Sue (Donovan) Latini.
"It's been a long road," Sue admits. The family worked hard to prepare for the opening.
But "it should be a lot of fun," Joe says.
On opening day, the two sit at old-time kitchen tables - one of the dining room features left from the Frank and Mary's days - and talk about their new business. Sue wears a print apron with "Ernie's" on it. The lunch rush is over - "It kept us moving pretty good,"
Joe reports - and supper hasn't started. Silverware clink-clinks in the background, and 50s music plays.
Joe and Sue, from nearby Spring Hill, were driving by the restaurant one day not long ago and saw the "for sale" sign outside. "We should look into it," Sue said. She studied food preparation at what is now the Northern Tier Career Center during her high school days at Northeast Bradford.
They visited. And they liked it. "It's like a big family," Joe thought at the time.
They officially bought the business about a month ago from former owners Frank and Mary Grasmuck. And then the work began.
They painted. They scrubbed. They fixed equipment that needed fixing. They started at 9 in the morning and went until 10:30 at night.
"Friends and family really did a lot," Joe says.
"My mother-in-law is a trooper!" Sue praises. And they call one relative "Picasso," because he painted so much.
They kept some of the old look. The dining room balcony still holds antique country items like ice tongs and hand sickles, and guests still sit at little 40s- or 50s-style drop-leaf tables with designs of black and white flowers or perhaps red criss-crosses.
But Sue and Joe added their own touches. "Bon Appetit" reads a greeting on a wall, showing a big spoon, and large arrangements of yellow flowers set on the windowsills. A mixed bouquet of powder-pink roses, hot pink carnations, yellow glads and more greets visitors from a side table. "Wishing you the best with your grand opening," reads a card on it.
And the card adds: "Happy birthday, Sue." Opening your own restaurant - now that's one way to celebrate your birthday.
The new menus, of course, read "Ernie's Restaurant and Lounge." They add: "Where everyone is family."
As of this interview, Ernie's was still waiting for its liquor license and could not serve alcohol. Visitors were welcome to bring their own bottle, though. The lounge will open later, and Sue and Joe even want to put a sports bar on the lower level. You can get takeouts, too.
So, what's for dinner? Chicken and biscuits for one thing.
"That's just huge around here!" Sue reports.
The menu also lists golden honey-fried chicken, haddock, chicken parmesan, meatloaf, Greek salad, burgers, a nacho platter, Philly cheese steak. And ... the 12-ounce, New York strip steak. And more.
"Having breakfast is my goal," Sue says. They're already serving breakfasts from 7 to 11 a.m. Sundays. That menu lists hearty morning fare like eggs, ham, sausage, bacon and pancakes.
Most employees worked for Frank and Mary's, too, and the Latinis have hired Rose Manuel of Dushore as their new cook. Sue and Joe have been cooking, too. Joe also works at DuPont, but Sue will focus on just Ernie's.
So ... maybe you're wondering: Why "Ernie's"?
"Ernie is Joe's father," Sue explains.
"He worked with a lot of farmers," Joe explains. The late Ernie Latini did artificial insemination and product sales besides running the family farm. "A lot of people knew him in the area," Joe adds.
"And we just miss him and love him," Sue says.
Ernie usually ate restaurant lunch somewhere, and "he loved to talk," Sue adds. Ernie the man probably would have felt right at home in Ernie's the restaurant. After all, the restaurant's been - and surely still will be - a place where folks tend to know each other.
In fact - just TRY to eat there very often without seeing someone you know. Won't happen.
Visitors can chat, laugh, stop by another table on the way out to visit. They may be celebrating Mother's Day or a birthday, or they may be locals popping in on the spur of the moment for a treat. They may be weekly ritual regulars. Whatever the case, they become a family.
Ernie's type of people.
"He would have been right here supporting us," Sue remarks.
"Probably by now he would have thought we were crazy!" Joe quips. But he admits, "I think ... he would have really enjoyed it. He'd have had fun."
After all, it's a restaurant "where everybody is family."