The new Crazy Lady’s Cafeteria and Take Out restaurant signage went up this week. The restaurant is gearing up for a Jan. 4 grand opening, which will include a free afternoon coffee and baked good for curious customers and a chance to see the building’s new makeover. (EMILY DISTEFANO)
Carman will have a new restaurant to celebrate in the New Year.
Susi Keck and Gerhard Will of Country Style Catering are opening a home-style restaurant in the building that used to house the Carman Bakery, which recently moved to Main Street South behind BSI.
Keck said the couple needed a kitchen for their catering business, and when they were approached about purchasing the restaurant they thought it would work out perfectly and give them a way to offer their culinary creations to the wider community.
“The town needs something different – home-cooked meals,” Keck said. “Like what grandma used to make.”
The menu hasn’t been set yet, but the couple has lots of plans for staple meals and weekly specials.
Keck said they will likely offer many of the same foods she cooks for catering clients – things like roast pork, roast beef, sweet and sour meatballs, stuffed chicken breasts, schnitzel, schnitzel burgers, pizza, stews, soups, sandwiches, salads, home-baked cakes and cookies.
She is also looking forward to trying out new items, and finding out what the customers like best.
The couple said all customer feedback – good and bad – is important to them because their goal is to create food that people enjoy.
“Everything is open,” Keck said. “At the end, we have to make what the people want...in the end it depends on what people want.”
The couple plans to offer some options on the menu for those with dietary restrictions, whether that means gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan or other.
“We look out for the people,” Keck said. “We don’t just think of the majority, we think of the smaller groups who have allergies.”
Using whole foods and healthy ingredients is also a priority. Approximately 90 per cent of the restaurant’s food will be made from scratch, and other items or ingredients will all be carefully vetted.
“People put so much stuff in food that doesn’t belong there,” Keck said, noting that many processed foods have additives and extra sodium that aren’t necessary. “You can work with fresh ingredients and make healthy options and not put too much salt in it or too much high-processed food.”
Keck has been working in the food industry since 1986, first training as a deli server and meat cutter in Germany and working in a sausage kitchen where she made sausages and cold cuts. Since then she has worked at meat markets, She also ran the canteen at Carman Collegiate for four years.
In 2015, she and her husband took over Country Style Catering in Carman – which they will still be operating.
And the couple is planning to diversify beyond the restaurant and catering, setting up a small grocery section with German, Italian, Mexican and Russian food items.
Keck is also excited about offering homemade, frozen ‘TV dinners’ for anyone looking for a fast, healthy meal at home.
“It’s not the old bakery anymore,” said Keck. “We will have baked goods, but it’s not the old bakery.”
The space has been undergoing a makeover over the past few weeks, with new paint, new flooring and new light fixtures installed.
“We want to have it nice and cozy, so people feel comfortable,” said Keck.
The new look and official menu will be unveiled at the restaurant’s grand opening on Jan. 4. Between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. that day, there will be free coffee and a free home-baked good for anyone who checks out the new place.
The restaurant’s regular hours will be 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
You can learn more at the restaurant and catering business’ new phone number: 204-745-2722.